Maximising Access to Education

A vision for inclusive systems change to support children at risk of exclusion.

Every day in England 35 children are told to permanently leave mainstream education. In less than a month the equivalent of an entire secondary school are excluded. This rate of exclusion means 7,905 children a year are permanently removed from mainstream education.

Why we are doing this: 

School exclusion is not simply an educational matter, but a symptom of complex issues that a young person faces in a highly fragmented system.

Young people who are excluded from school often face increased risk of exploitation and violence and reduced likelihood of finding stable, fulfilling employment in the future. Our vision is for an inclusive, coordinated and proactive system. A system that maximises access to education will enable:   

  • Belonging: children and young people, regardless of their needs, feel they belong and can prosper;
  • Timely support: parents / carers can access the right support for their child when they need it, as early as possible, to keep them within mainstream schooling when that is the right place for them;
  • Inclusion: teachers and schools can create inclusive learning environments by getting support from the wider system for pupils who need it to relieve pressure; and   
  • Holistic working the local system incentivises and enables stakeholders to work together to provide children, parents / carers and schools with effective holistic support.
What we are doing: 

Maximising Access to Education is working across two local authorities through a test-and-learn platform, for the practical implementation of the Timpson Review recommendations. Working in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council and Gloucestershire County Council, we are: 

  • Building infrastructure across local systems that enables multi-agency working;
  • Creating local, evidence-based marketplaces for preventative and reactive interventions;
  • Using data analysis to understand who is at risk of exclusion and how the impact of Covid-19 is being felt by vulnerable children

Social Finance has partnered with School Home Support, a national charity, to develop a ‘blueprint’ model to provide intervention for children and young people most at risk. With the delivery model nearing its finalisation, all partners are considering how we bring the model to life in the local areas.

Pilot implementation

In response to findings through in-depth evidence gathering, data analysis and co-production with children and young people, Social Finance has developed an innovative blueprint model, called RootED, to provide intervention for those most at risk of exclusion. 

The model consists of the following elements:

  • School liaison officer: Based around a cluster of schools and working directly with children and young people and their parents/ carers
  • Multi-agency forum: A regular multi-agency forum to coordinate statutory responses and allow for contextual decision-making and safeguarding
  • Directory of what works: A co-ordinated and outcomes orientated directory of services, that will improve understanding of what is available locally as well as quality of provision and how to access services
  • Local response fund: Dedicated fund that school practitioners can tap into to provide practical support and ‘spot purchasing’ of support for children and families

Social Finance is now bringing the model to life in our partner local authorities, approaching the implementation of the pilot in distinct ways that best fit the needs of each local area. We are also engaging with an evaluation partner to create a robust plan for evaluation and shared learning across place-based pilot areas.

In Cheshire West and Chester, Power2 has been appointed as the local delivery partner and will be working alongside Social Finance and the local authority to mobilise and deliver the pilot. This appointment follows a rigorous commissioning process that involved a wide range of stakeholders, reflecting the coproduced nature of the entire programme. Over the course of the pilot, we will continue to engage with a wide group of local stakeholders and children and young people to ensure that their voices remain at the centre of this work and inform it going forward.

In Gloucestershire, we are engaging with education professionals, non-statutory service providers and statutory advisory services as part of the Discovery phase of the Directory of What Works. We are testing our hypotheses and user needs to understand how to make it easier for teachers to access the right information on services for children and young people at risk of exclusion. 

National scale

While the initial pilot implementation is focused in specific areas within the partner local authorities, Social Finance is looking to scale the model to other parts of each local system if successful. Over the course of the pilot, the team will be focusing on gathering the required evidence to make the case for this.


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