NORTH-EAST school children have been given the chance to share their views with a leading authority on education and social equity.

Professor Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter, paid a visit to Dene Academy, in Peterlee, which is part of the Advance Learning Partnership (ALP).

He spoke with staff and student leaders to get their views on how opportunities for less-advantaged children can be maximised, and afterwards led a roundtable discussion with ALP’s School Improvement Team.

Professor Elliot Major said: “I’ve had an amazing visit to Dene Academy, and a lovely meeting with a range of pupils to hear about their experiences. It was a real eye-opener into what all these young children want to go on and do in their lives, but they also shared feedback on what more we could do to address issues like attendance, and how we could work with schools to do that.

“I think what really comes across at Dene Academy is just how closely connect the school is with its local community, and that’s something I hope all schools can do. I’ve really enjoyed the visit, and I’ve learned a lot.”

The Northern Echo:

As the UK’s first professor of social mobility, Professor Elliot Major’s work focuses on improving the lives of young people from all backgrounds across the country.

Magnus Curry was one of the student leaders who shared his views with Professor Elliot Major, saying: “I think there needs to be more long-term planning in education. Governments only seem interested in popular short-term solutions, but we need long-term thinking to see lasting improvements.”

Headteacher, David Nelson, said: “We would like to thank Professor Major for visiting our school today. His visit was an excellent opportunity for our staff and pupils to share their recommendations of how the education system could further be improved to enhance the quality of education across the country.

“As part of his visit, Professor Major also had the opportunity to visit lessons and experience the calm and nurturing school environment we have here at Dene. I’m delighted that our students engaged and shared their views so readily, and I’m very proud of the way they represented our school.”

Professor Major also delivered a keynote speech to leaders from all ALP schools, focusing on helping teachers improve prospects for under-resourced and working-class pupils.

Kelvin Simpson, CEO of ALP, said: “Professor Elliot Major’s work and research on equity in education is truly inspiring. During his keynote, he presented a wide-ranging and thought-provoking overview that enabled us to examine disadvantage from multiple perspectives and provided us with practical advice that we can implement across our Trust.”