New commissioning guide from The Young Foundation supports schools to tackle educational inequality

Date: 11 May 2018


The Young Foundation has launched a good-practice guide to support schools to more effectively commission innovative services, especially those which aim to tackle educational inequality.

Commissioning Futures: A Guide for Schools launches on 11 May 2018 and aims to provide guidance to school leaders who have found themselves with increasing autonomy to commission external services to help improve student outcomes. Previously, minimal guidance had been available to support schools in doing so.

Commissioning Futures incorporates a wealth of expertise and insights from headteachers, teachers, innovators, social financiers, think tanks and charities, and draws extensively on The Young Foundation’s practical experience running The Young Academy – an accelerator and investment fund for social ventures tackling educational inequality. The Young Academy has supported over 52 organisations since 2014.

Educational inequality is a persistent and entrenched problem in the UK, with a significant attainment gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers. For example, a child from the richest 20% of communities is ten times more likely to attend a Russell Group university than a child from the poorest 20% of neighbourhoods. At the same time, schools face a policy context of increasing school autonomy and real-term funding cuts.

Commissioning Futures has been designed with these challenges and context in mind, by supporting schools to understand:

  • How working with external providers, particularly those offering innovative services, can help schools address the specific challenges for their school;
  • Identify sources of funding to enable schools to commission services to tackle inequalities in their environments;
  • The key principles and steps of effectively commissioning and implementing innovative services.

Helen Goulden, CEO of the Young Foundation said; “There are multiple and intense challenges currently facing schools, and school leadership teams are at the receiving end of mounting expectations to achieve more with less. Our research and practical experience delivering The Young Academy shows that commissioning practices are often ad hoc and unfocused – and there is little guidance available to schools. Our hope is that the Commissioning Futures guide can help school leadership teams commission the best possible services for their students, in a way which maximises the impact of their limited resources.”

The guide features case studies from ventures supported by The Young Academy, including Think for the Future, Inclusive Classrooms, 1Up, Fearless Futures, Smart School Councils Community and Edukit.