Social Justice & Equity

What do we mean by social justice?

Social justice means children and adults from all identity groups have the same rights, opportunities, access to resources, and benefits. It recognises that inequalities in society are sometimes embedded historically and must be addressed. Poverty, disadvantage and other forms of inequality are all examples of what needs to be addressed. Education is an essential part of this.

Why is this important to us at Tees Valley Education?

‘a commitment to protecting children from poverty is… more than a slogan or a routine inclusion in a political manifesto; it is the hallmark of a civilised society’UNICEF (2012)

As a Trust, we recognise that our communities have faced unprecedented challenges in recent years and many of the communities that we serve continue to face the most serious cost-of-living crisis that they have faced in decades.

  • According to recent research, there are approximately 3.9 million children living in poverty in the UK. That’s 27% children, or eight in an average classroom of 30.
  • 49% of children living in lone-parent families are in poverty. Lone parents face a higher risk of poverty due to the lack of an additional earner, low rates of maintenance payments, gender inequality in employment and pay, and childcare costs.
  • Children from Black and minority ethnic groups are more likely to be in poverty: 46% are now in poverty, compared with 26% of children in white British families.

We recognise that growing up and living in hardship is immensely difficult. We also recognise that we exist to not only educate our children and communities, but to serve them too. This means we want to be aware of their needs and make social justice one of our core priorities as schools.

  • According to a recent report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the highest proportion of people experiencing extreme hardship in the UK is in Middlesbrough, with the North East as a whole seeing higher rates than London and the North West.
  • Middlesbrough was the local authority ranked highest for destitution rates with 1.8% of households classed as destitute.
  • It defines destitution as people who can’t afford two or more essentials like shelter, food, heating or clothing.

How do we support and champion social justice?

There are a number of important ways in which we currently aim to champion social justice through our schools, work with children and communities. This is not an exhaustive list, but these are some of the ways in which we are deliberate and intentional about championing social justice as school communities.

  • Financial support options for parents/carers struggling to meet costs of living.
  • Supporting with the distribution of Food Bank provision and support for families in crisis.
  • Breakfast provision for children to support their daily nourishment and access to school.
  • Summer school and academic holiday support programmes for out-of-school access.
  • Employment of research leads dedicated to working on the social justice agenda within TVED.
  • Active involvement in research and innovation with Teesside University and other research communities on the issues of poverty, disadvantage and social policy.
  • Trauma-informed teacher education programmes to support our teachers in understanding and responding to the needs of children and families.
  • Development of a Business and Enterprise curriculum to support and equip our children in understanding more about local business and pursuing their ambitions.
  • Advocacy and communication to political and education policy leaders on the needs of our communities and recommendations for support.
  • Working closely with community leaders, organisations and charities to support the needs of our children, families and communities across the Tees Valley. 
  • Continuing to raise awareness about local need through our internal teacher-development programmes, regional and national speaking opportunities.
  • A regular research roundup for our colleagues and other national champions on the social justice agenda to ensure that we continue to stay up-to-date with the latest thinking and research on this agenda.
  • Social justice champions in each of our schools.
  • Strong pastoral and welfare teams within each of academies to ensure our children and families are supported. Communication, relationships, and trust are central to the success of these partnerships between home and school.

Our commitment

Here are some examples of what our commitment to this means to individuals and groups in our schools and across Tees Valley:

To childrenTo families/communitiesTo our teams/colleaguesTo other schools/partners
A curriculum and lessons that are designed to give you the very best education.

Helping you understand more about social justice and poverty through lessons, assemblies and other activities.

Opportunity to learn more about careers and future jobs, helping you to see that your dreams are not limited by your background or wealth.

Making the school day affordable for you and your families, so that poverty doesn’t need to make school life hard or make you feel different.
Regular support and ears that are ready to listen across our schools.

Making the school day and cross-curricular activities accessible by considering what activities we design and their impact on families.

Opportunity to regularly celebrate and champion the achievements and ambitions of your child.

Providing your child with opportunity to take part in additional activities, holiday programmes and other support opportunities.

Raising awareness about the needs of our families and communities through regional and national networks.
Regular CPD and coaching framed around social justice and the need to understand disadvantage.

Opportunity to contribute to regional and national thinking on the social justice agenda through research papers, writing and events.

Dissemination of best practice, blogs and research through a dedicated Virtual Learning Community (VLC).

CPD and teacher-education rooted in trauma-informed practice and the science of learning; designed to help challenge educational inequality.

Regular opportunity for colleagues to collaborate with colleagues across our schools and a regional/national network of other schools.
Best practice resource sharing and dissemination of evidence-informed approaches to tackling educational disadvantage.

Opportunity to work with TVED leaders to diagnose your local need and the concept of ‘doorstep disadvantage’.

One-off or regular virtual or face-to-face workshops designed to support your teams (teaching and non-teaching) about educational disadvantage and ways to tackle it.

Sign up to regular research and best practice links via our TVEduResearch Roundup (email us for further details on the contact form below).

Collaboration and support with system-leadership, Trust and school improvement within your school or MAT.

Introduction to organisations and schools leading excellent work on these agendas.

To find out more about our commitment to social justice contact us on the following:

Families/parents/carersOther schools/TrustsOther organisations/partners
Contact us via your child’s school main officeContact us via the email below
Contact us via the email below


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