This Social Investment Insights paper focuses on how social investment can be used to support education.
The education system can play a fundamental role in the development of children and young people and consequently the shaping of the nation, both socially and economically. The existing structure of the statutory education system in England – in terms of incentives and institutional biases - often means that not enough is done to address underperforming students’ needs and narrow the gap between the higher and lower achievers or iron out regional disparities in the quality of educational delivery. Along with other contributory factors, this cements social immobility and leads to long-term inequality. It also constrains economic growth and broader national prosperity.
Education policy remains a highly political area with a large degree of ideological influence. An encouraging cross party consensus is emerging however and progress is being made to reform the education system and improve its effectiveness for all. New budgets have been introduced aimed at reducing variations in performance across groups, autonomy as to how these budgets are spent increased - theoretically allowing for the procurement of tailored solutions to best fit each student’s needs - and a growing emphasis on implementing evidence-based interventions. Teething pains around the implementation of these reforms exist (and will do for some time as systems and frameworks are adjusted), however increasingly these will create potential income streams for charities and social enterprises to draw upon for their delivery of education interventions aimed at improving outcomes for pupils who are most in need.
This paper seeks to build on the Young Foundation report ‘Social Investment in Education’ which we cocommissioned in July 2013, and explores further some of the key issues in the area of education - from early years to post-16 education - alongside a review of recent policy changes, an exploration of the involvement of the social sector in education and some of the future opportunities open to them. The paper will also discuss Big Society Capital’s approach to supporting the development of charities and social enterprises in the education sector and the potential role for social investment to help scale their activities.