The ‘new city’ of Milton Keynes is itself testament to a pioneering long-term vision that has always sought to create better places for people. Moreover, if we look at the historic educational picture for Milton Keynes, as a region it has consistently underperformed when compared to national averages, particularly at KS4 and KS5. The national recruitment crisis is notably acute in Milton Keynes with the average number of teaching job adverts being placed per school in England is 5.2 – the average for Milton Keynes is over twice the national average at 11.6. The national recruitment crisis is set to become an exacerbated problem for Milton Keynes as it is projected to become the largest conurbation in the South-East region without a university. Such issues, coupled with a projected 20% increase in the local population by 2025 means Milton Keynes will face increasing and significant teacher recruitment challenges in the immediate and foreseeable future. This will inevitably have negative implications for the educational attainment of local students, school Ofsted ratings, the local economy as well as local perceptions of teaching as a profession. According to the Milton Keynes Skills Strategy Report, strategic priority number one for the City is to ‘raise standards in education and training provision in order to ensure a strong foundation for economic growth’.
The report highlights consultation findings where a ‘major shortage of good teaching staff’ including middle leader and senior leaders, subject gaps in English, maths, science, geography and design technology are a threat to sustainable economic growth. The Skills Strategy Report also notes that these problems are going to be an increasing problem as the city expands and new schools are built.
‘Over a long period of time, the main force in favour of greater equality has been the diffusion of knowledge and skills’. – Thomas Piketty
The new city of Milton Keynes is itself one of the UK’s visionary pioneers with the use of endowment investments to fund social enterprise, the Milton Keynes Parks Trust is funded this way with an initial endowment of a £20m fund of land and commercial property, with the profits from such investments being used to maintain and enhance the now much praised and beloved local environment. Today, the Parks Trust has assets valued at over £105m. It is this long-term and visionary approach that has enabled Milton Keynes to become one of the most prosperous and happy places to live and work in the whole of the UK aiding the attraction of many national and international headquarters such as Argos, BSI, Domino’s Pizza, Essentra, Marshall Amplification, Mercedes-Benz, Niftylift, Nissan, Network Rail, Redbull Racing, Santander, Suzuki, Volkswagen AG and Yamaha Music. With the city’s excellent business links, significant teacher recruitment issues, innovative use of endowment funds for the public good and an historical trend of educational underperformance, the EWF proposes to pioneer and showcase its work within Milton Keynes before expanding to other areas of the UK. There is no more appropriate time or fitting place to begin.