We do not believe that background determines future. We believe that every child has the ability and desire to reveal the champion within. We believe in building self-esteem through our commitment to character education and wellbeing.
Equity can be defined as being fair and just. This quality is more important than ever when we set it against the clear unfairness and injustice we see baked in to our economic and societal model. I strongly believe that the circumstances of our birth should not dictate our destiny; that the family we are born into should not define our life chances. Too often it does and the result is that we have very low levels of social and economic mobility. Put simply if you are born into poverty, it is most likely that you will live your life in poverty.
So much of the work we do in schools and our Trust is to close down that disadvantage. We identify and prioritise the achievement of our economically disadvantaged pupils- those in receipt of free school meals or in receipt of the pupil premium grant- because every statistic and metric shows they are, as a cohort subject to lower levels of academic achievement and, as a result, lessened life- chances. We must, every day, focus our efforts on those who need us the most and where our impact can be the most transformational. That doesn’t mean we forget the universal entitlement of every child, far from it. Instead we are unapologetic in our drive to improve the life chances of all young people, and most especially those who have further to travel to get there.
Equity therefore is about giving everyone an equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of the barriers that exist. This is the essence of social mobility. At Dartmoor MAT we think and plan beyond this, which is why our focus on equity is rooted in social justice; the liberation of barriers and the ability for all to succeed by removing structural, cultural and economic barriers to equality. The concepts are linked and will always intersect; the work we do must therefore be rooted in community cohesion and changing the reality so that each generation has a greater opportunity than the one that raises them to be their best selves and to do their best work. As educators we are change makers and the greatest change we can bring is the fulfilment of liberating the wonderful young people we serve.
This work can be practical, too. For example, the Careers Fair we have organised next week will enable around 2500 students from across the region to see the hugely varied range of careers and opportunities available to them. Speaking at the event in Okehampton, we will have representatives from businesses, colleges, universities, and more, all as part of an attempt to accommodate each and every type of student we have. Fundamentally, our job as educators is to prepare our students for life outside of school – whether that’s in the world of work or in day to day life – and it is therefore so important that we tangibly show our students what they can go on to achieve. There should never be a limit on ambition, and at Dartmoor MAT we are proud to provide our young people with the tools, insights, and confidence to reach new heights.