Lead Officers: Shakira Martin, National President 2017/19
In September 2017 we launched the Poverty Commission with an aim of addressing the barriers working-class students face accessing and succeeding in post-16 education. Between September and December that year the Commission gathered evidence to create recommendations for government, local authorities, and institutions to make education truly accessible for today’s students and the next generation.
The Commission included 10 experts selected for their knowledge and passion for education as a public good and their belief that it belongs to all of society. The Commission members were:
• Shakira Martin, NUS National President 2017/19 and chair of the Poverty Commission
• Courtney Boateng, Student at the University of Cambridge
• Iain Murray, TUC Senior Policy Officer
• Sam Budd, Bristol Students’ Union CEO
• Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Joseph Rowntree Foundation Policy and Research Manager
• Wanda Wyporska, The Equality Trust Executive Director
• Carmen Smith, NUS Wales Deputy President
• Jeremiah Emmanual, Campaigner
• Andy Forbes, Harringay, Enfield and NE London College Principle
• Andrew Sumner, Monster CEO
• Dr Faiza Shaheen, CLASS Director
• Sophia Cannon, Barrister and social justice commentator
Poverty Commission Ambassadors were recruited to act as storytellers for the campaign, bringing the evidence presented to the Commission to life. Students, students’ unions, organisations, academics and those not in education were all encouraged to tell the Commission of their experiences of post-16 education and how they were impacted. Factors such as cost of living, support, transport costs, care and support needs and other potential barriers were all explored.
At the heart of this work were 2 questions: what are the barriers working class people face accessing and succeeding in post-16 education? and if you could make three policy recommendations, what would they be?
Taking evidence from across the UK, before delivering a series of recommendations in its report Class dismissed: getting in and getting on in further and higher education, the Commission’s work influenced the establishment of the Augar Review into Post 18 Education Funding.
The findings from the Commission influenced the setting up of an independent review of education funding and their report helped to shape NUS’ campaign to influence that review, Education on the Edge, during 2018 and 2019.
The work of the Commission concluded mid-2018, following the publication of their report with the related campaign concluding on publication of the Augar Review Report in May 2019. But the work continued with the establishment of the National Education Service campaign in 2019/20 and the 2020/22 campaign Students Deserve Better.
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