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Should policy be more focused on equalising opportunities?

UCL’s Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities (CEPEO) have published 14 priorities for evidence-led education policy, ranging from low-cost changes to ambitious reforms tackling long-standing inequalities.

There is a strong economic case for major investment in education and skills throughout a life span, from the early years period to tertiary education and in-work training. Through this, these priorities aim to overcome skills shortages and waning productivity growth.

CEPEO highlight eight immediate priorities that are low-cost, readily attainable and materially important, mindful of the challenges of competing priorities amid high public debt. These eight are complemented by six more reforms to address long-standing inequalities, equalise opportunities and create a fairer, more productive society.

The policy priorities were launched at an event held at Church House, Westminster, on 29 March 2023, co-hosted by the UCL Policy Lab.

This was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Marc Stears, Director of the UCL Policy Lab. It featured Ed Dorrell, Director at Public First and a writer at The Independent; Torsten Bell, Chief Executive of the RES Foundation and Honorary Professor at the UCL Policy Lab; Professor Becky Francis, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation and Professor at UCL; and Karin Smyth MP.

Professor Lindsey Macmillan, the Director of the CEPEO, said: “Despite the importance of education and skills in driving productivity and economic growth, there has been very limited policy action to address skills shortages and falling attainment from the pandemic.

“Our menu of evidence-based policy priorities ranges from easy fixes, such as a campaign to help parents support early maths, to more ambitious reforms, such as investing more in teachers, Further Education, and Adult Learning.”

Marc Stears said: “These policy priorities have been meticulously researched and are grounded in the aspirations of people right across the country. There are few agendas as urgent, important, and practically achievable in British public policy today.”


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