Home > Policy and analysis > Reports > Universities UK’s response to the government consultation, 'Schools that work for everyone'

Universities UK’s response to the government consultation, 'Schools that work for everyone'

We support the government’s wish to raise standards and attainment in the school system and in doing so improve social mobility across all parts of society.

However, we strongly suggest a focus on ends rather than means, with greater flexibility over how higher education can support the government’s objectives. Raised aspirations, improved attainment, increased teacher ability and retention, and improved school success can all be achieved through a number of partnership and engagement mechanisms with schools. These broaden the concept and practice of sponsorship to a wider set of effective mechanisms. One way to view this would be to conceive of schools sponsorship as a continuum in which universities utilise their different capacities and circumstances to contribute to the education system and pupil attainment. This could vary from outreach work with schools, to establishing a new school; all points on the continuum would have value which could be recognised through universities’ access agreements, however, each point would reflect the needs of schools, the local context and institutional strengths and circumstances.

In addition, the policy should be implemented in a way that supports the overall effectiveness of the sector’s efforts to promote fair access and to deliver the greatest benefit for potential students from disadvantaged and under-represented groups, while taking account of any unintended consequences. Our preference would be for an approach which did not make school sponsorship overly prescriptive, but encouraged an environment that could facilitate more growth, whereby over time more institutions engage in sponsorship based on the evidence of what works and tailored to the needs of the local area. We believe that this approach would be more effective in supporting the government’s objectives. Importantly, it would also allow for new and innovative ways of working with schools to raise attainment, and for engagement to be adapted in response to new evidence of what works.

Our response is based on feedback received by members and a roundtable discussion held in November 2016 with a range of institutions and including representatives from the Department for Education.

News

Universities UK President conference speech: having policies and strategies in place to address harassment is not enough

8 November 2017
Professor Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, has said that all strategies designed to address harassment must be accompanied by activities to support cultural change in our universities.

Europe’s university leaders call for urgent Brexit clarification

25 October 2017
​Leaders of European higher education bodies have signed a statement calling on governments across Europe to speed up Brexit negotiations so talks can begin over the future of European research, collaboration, and student mobility.

Blog

Freedom of speech and the Office for Students

16 November 2017
UUK's William Hammonds discusses proposals on freedom of speech in the OfS consultation and the implications for universities.

Go International – try more, do more, fear less

1 November 2017
Simmone Mclean, student at the University of Northampton, discusses her life-changing experience of studying abroad as part of her degree.