National Numeracy, a founding partner of the Fair Education Alliance, attended the Make Education Fair pre-election debate last week between the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour spokespeople for education.
The debate was hosted by the Fair Education Alliance and Times Red Box and the panel, Nicky Morgan, David Laws, and Tristram Hunt, discussed the topic ‘Closing the divide: Can education ever be fair for all?’.
The evening began with opening statements from all three spokespeople, followed by a lively and wide-ranging debate on the education landscape in the UK, with a particular focus on social mobility. Topics covered included Early Years education, class sizes and school place shortages, and the role of independent schools in the state sector.
National Numeracy CEO Mike Ellicock questioned the panel about their commitment to tackling the pressing issue of low numeracy, asking what they would do to reduce the disconnect between maths taught at school and maths used in everyday life and at work. Mike drew attention to the fact that only 24% of 16-24 year olds demonstrate numeracy skills at the level equivalent to a GCSE A*-C in maths, despite 64% of pupils attaining a passing grade.
All three spokespeople were united in expressing support for the Fair Education Alliance and its goal of bridging the gap in educational attainments between children from poor backgrounds and their wealthier peers, but they each sketched out different visions for how their parties would achieve this.