About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Building a fairer education together

Nesta has joined the Fair Education Alliance, a coalition from across businesses, charities and education, as the 100th member.

Where you are born, and how much your parents earn, still largely determines if you will have access to a high quality education in England and whether you will be prepared to succeed in life and work.

In London and pockets across the country, school leaders and teachers have demonstrated it is possible to close the gap, but in many areas poorer pupils continue to make far less progress than their wealthier peers.

It’s not just in academic qualifications where disadvantaged students lag behind. The Sutton Trust found that poorer pupils are much less likely to have opportunities to develop essential skills (such as motivation and communication skills) that they need for success. And schools with higher numbers of poorer pupils are less likely to offer opportunities for children to develop these skills. Research has also shown that children from poor families are still more likely to have poorly developed social and emotional skills.

At Nesta, we want to prepare all young people to thrive in the future. However, there is a gap in the quality of education for the disadvantaged kids. We believe that this educational inequality is one of the country’s most pressing problems. The economy is changing beyond recognition - with automation, an ageing population and globalisation just some of the influencing factors.

We want to ensure young people experience a broad education that allows them to develop the skills and attitudes they need to thrive in the changing world

This means supporting children to become confident communicators equipped with the resilience required to thrive in an uncertain future (skills our research on the future economy has found will be important), alongside the core academic qualifications that our education system prioritises. Nesta has supported a range of programmes with this in mind, from piloting interventions to support collaborative problem-solving, to backing online platforms that aim to scale the availability of tuition for all young people.

That’s why we’ve joined the Fair Education Alliance (FEA). Like us, the FEA is not prepared to accept the status quo and is committed to leading the fight against educational inequality.

Since 2014 this coalition for change in education has grown to comprise some of the UK’s leading education organisations - of which Nesta is very proud to be the 100th.

The FEA believes the time is ripe for a strategic, collaborative and targeted approach to tackling educational inequality across geographical and demographic gaps, involving business, charities, government and the education sector.

The FEA’s key priorities include:

  1. An education system which develops and values the whole child
  2. World-class teachers and transformative leaders for UK schools
  3. Joined up and coherent support for all post-school destination routes enabling choice for every child

We look forward to working with the Alliance and its members, including building on existing workwith organisations such as Franklin Scholars, to identify the most effective approaches and scale them for the young people that need them most.

Our first activity as part of the FEA will be to contribute towards the upcoming FEA Annual Report card, released in September. It assesses progress towards educational equality over the past year.

If you’re interested in working with Nesta and the FEA on these issues please get in touch via [email protected].

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Future skills


Jed Cinnamon

Jed Cinnamon

Jed Cinnamon

Senior Programme Manager, A Fairer Start

Jed was a senior programme manager in the fairer start mission at Nesta.

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