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Friday Insights (10th January)

Caitlin Ross, 10/01/20

Happy new year! Hope everyone is feeling rested and ready to take on 2020.

This week was big for exclusions, with new analysis and recommendations from the Centre for Social Justice, and a new campaign and fund from The Evening Standard and the London Community Foundation. Plus, it’s a new decade – whoa. Let’s look at some predictions for what’s in store for the world of philanthropy during the roaring 20s v. 2.0.

This week in school exclusions

Based on analysis conducted in 2019 by the Education Policy Institute on permanent exclusions vs. unexplained exits from mainstream school to Alternative Provision (AP), the Centre for Social Justice suggests that we may be missing a trick in making sure our exclusion practices are fair (and legal) and are subject to the proper level of accountability:


“While the government publishes only exclusion rates, the incentive to find unofficial routes into full-time education in AP will continue to exist. Arguably, the pupils who are effectively excluded through “managed moves” into AP are at greater risk as they are not afforded any official scrutiny and do not have a similar appeals process to aid their reintegration into mainstream.”


CSJ goes on to recommend that we have a measure that looks at both formal permanent exclusions and unexplained exits in order to paint the full picture of exclusions, and make sure that our exclusion practices have students’ best interests at heart:

“We recommend that the government close this data loophole by publishing data on all moves from mainstream to AP alongside the figures on permanent exclusions, by local authority, in their annual exclusions statistical release. The aim of this proposed measure is not to penalise schools or local authorities, but to provide an accurate starting point for a conversation about how to structure an education system that works well for all children”


Meanwhile, The Evening Standard (ES)has conducted its own analysis into the state of school exclusion, finding a strong link between exclusions and young people being caught up in county lines activities. Based on its analysis, the ES has taken a stance on a possible solution to the issue of exclusions – closing PRUs and setting up specialist ‘nurture units’ within mainstream schools. This is a practice that has seen positive results in Glasgow, and ES has launched a fund in partnership with the London Community Foundation (LCF) for schools looking to pilot their own ‘nurture units’.

We love seeing engagement from multiple players with this issue – we’re continually growing our understanding of the complexity and impact of exclusions through our work with The Difference and others. We’re curious to hear from our readers about what you think about these proposed actions – do we need a better measure to paint the full picture of exclusions? Are in-school ‘nurture units’ a viable (and scalable) part of the solution? Tell us your thoughts!

Philanthropy in the 2020s

While this set of predictions from Inside Philanthropy for what challenges and opportunities will face philanthropy in the 2020s is definitely more US focused, it holds some interesting food for thought for those of us who are UK based. Here are a handful of predictions that got us thinking:

  • Government will get smaller – “Government will always spend far more than the charitable sector, through the 2020s and beyond”, Inside Philanthropy says. “But its discretionary resources for new programs and initiatives will steadily wane, resulting in further privatization of problem solving”. This has been true in the UK, and could continue to be – in education, even with a promise of additional funding for schools, a continued focus on academization could be one of the ways that the privatization of problem solving could continue to manifest itself here.
  • High impact philanthropy will grow – “Thanks to expanding infrastructure, more individual donors and family foundations will get the help they need to give effectively in the 2020s. Generational transition will also fuel the quest for impact, as millennials focused on driving social change move to the forefront of the sector”. At Big Change, we’ve been fortunate to work with donors who put social impact at the forefront of all of their giving decisions – we look forward to continuing to help them maximize the impact of their donations into the 2020s and beyond.
  • Trying to address domestic problems will be frustrating – “Moving the needle on tough domestic challenges like education, poverty and decarbonization will be as tough as ever in the 2020s. It’s hard to see big breakthroughs coming easily—especially in light of philanthropy’s track record in the 2010s, a decade in which a billionaire-backed K-12 reform push largely flopped, climate change giving yielded few gains, and funders only nibbled cautiously at the edges of a vast inequality problem”. While the US context is clearly very different, it’s true that we have some sticky problems here at home that philanthropists and purpose driven organizations will be looking to address in the coming decade. Tackling wicked problems like inequity in education is rarely going to give instant gratification – we’re going to need to have patience and stamina in order to create a future where young people can thrive in life, not just exams.

Have excellent weekends all!