A group of South Yorkshire’s most influential education leaders have joined an initiative aimed at improving the life chances of the region’s young people.

South Yorkshire Futures, a Sheffield Hallam University-led social mobility partnership focused on improving educational attainment and raising aspiration, aims to tackle the challenge of young people in South Yorkshire being less likely to achieve good GCSEs, less likely to remain in education and have fewer life opportunities than their peers in other parts of the country.

Following its launch earlier this year the initiative’s stakeholder board has now convened for the first time to discuss how best to focus the programme to ensure it has maximum impact.
The stakeholder board will provide advice on areas such as consistency with government education and skills policies, reviewing performance of the programme, and supporting dissemination of research findings to the rest of the sector.

The board includes:
Damian Allen, Director of People, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council
Stephen Betts, Chief Executive, Learn Sheffield
Stephanie Douglas, Head of Service, Early Years Doncaster
Pat Dubas, Teaching Schools Council
John Edwards, Regional Schools Commissioner, Department for Education
Chris French, Executive Principal, Brigantia Learning Trust
Mark Lynam, Director of Programme Commissioning, Sheffield City Region
Libby Nicolas, Chief Executive, Astrea Academy Trust
Ian Thomas, Director of Childrens’ Services, Rotherham Borough Council
Chris Webb, Principal and CEO, Barnsley College
Alison Wilson, Lead for Doncaster Opportunity Area, Department for Education

Stephanie Douglas, Head of Service at Early Years Doncaster, said: “I’m passionate about early years and believe that the life chances of young children in particular are extremely important – but this can’t stand in isolation. This is why I’m absolutely committed to this project.

“South Yorkshire Futures will encourage us all to work together in partnership across day care providers, schools, further education and higher education in order to improve outcomes for children across the region.”

VIDEOS: You can view the thoughts of Stephanie Douglas here, Chris French here, and Pat Dubas here.

South Yorkshire Futures aims to build a shared vision for the role of education in improving social mobility in South Yorkshire, bringing a more joined-up approach and improved collaboration in three areas – preparation (early years); performance (primary and secondary) and aspiration (further education, higher education and work).

Examples of early priorities include providing a leadership and knowledge exchange resource for early years’ providers, developing a high quality teacher offer to improve local teacher recruitment and retention and improving progression into higher education or work.

Greg Burke, Director of South Yorkshire Futures, said: “The stakeholder board is sector and region-leading in its representation – and this is matched by the exceptional level of commitment and enthusiasm being shown by the members.

“The knowledge, experience and leadership of the board will provide South Yorkshire Futures with the foundation it needs to help achieve its goal of making a positive, long-term, transformative impact on the lives of the young people in our region.”

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