Mission 44 CEO, Jason Arthur, on 2024 highlights and new partnerships
Jason Arthur
30 Apr 2024

This year has kicked off with a whirlwind of activity for Mission 44 and I can hardly believe we’re already at the end of April. At times, leading an organisation committed to impact, but still very much in its start-up phase (we became a registered charity less than two years ago!), can feel like a constant sprint. But the energy and enthusiasm of our team, the insights and creativity of our Youth Advisory Board and the inspiring work of our partners, keeps us all constantly motivated.

Preventing School Exclusions

Earlier in the year, I had the privilege of visiting Co-op Academy Leeds, a school run by the Co-op Multi-Academy Trust (one of our valued partners). They’re testing new models to reduce school suspensions and exclusions for Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) young people in Yorkshire. Government figures show that year after year, GRT pupils have the highest rate of suspensions and exclusion among all ethnic groups. Co-op’s approach is an exciting one: in addition to shifting in-school practice and attitudes, I also had the opportunity to meet new Community Liaison Officers, themselves from the Roma community, who are looking to build trust and greater connections to the education system and local services. This kind of representation is critical. It fosters trust, understanding, and a sense of belonging for GRT students, allowing them to flourish within the school environment.

Diversifying the education workforce 

Representation matters. At every level, it’s critical that we have an education system that can truly cater to the wonderful diversity of our young people. Yet our report with the National Foundation for Education Research shows that despite being over-represented among applicants for initial teacher training (ITT), people of colour are considerably under-represented in teaching. Roughly 60% of schools in England had an all-White teaching staff in 2021/22 and 86% of schools in England have an all-White senior leadership team.

That’s why in February we were thrilled to launch our new Diversity in Education Fund to test new models to increase the ethnic diversity of people entering into teaching. The fund will see Mission 44 invest £1m into two organisations, with the aim of sharing learning to influence policy and practice across the system. Additionally, we’ve partnered with Aspiring Heads, a fantastic organisation supporting more Black teachers and educators into leadership roles.

Expanding pathways into STEM and motorsport

Looking beyond the classroom, we’re excited to support initiatives that diversify STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) and motorsport. A 2023 Engineering UK report revealed that women make up just 16.5% of the engineering workforce, and the picture is even lower for ethnic minority representation. Through partnerships with upReach, Driven by Us, and The Black Women in Science Network, we’re creating more accessible career pathways for young people facing social injustice. These programs are breaking down stereotypes and igniting a passion for these dynamic fields in a new generation.

Amplifying youth voice 

Finally, at Mission 44 we believe that transforming young people’s lives has to mean empowering them to take action themselves. In this critical election year, we recognise the importance of supporting young people to have their voices heard. At the last election, voter turnout among 18-24 year olds was 47% compared to 74% for the over 65s. That’s why we’re delighted to be supporting My Life My Say in its work to increase youth participation in the political process.

What’s coming up?

Looking ahead, this year we’ll be working with partners to shift public perceptions and policy on school exclusions; investing further in STEM opportunities for young people in the US, Brazil and Italy; and co-designing a new empowerment fund with our Youth Advisory Board. To stay updated, check out our website, follow us on social media or sign-up to our newsletter.

Jason Arthur,
CEO, Mission 44