Sir Lewis Hamilton

Sky Donates Over £1million to Sir Lewis Hamilton’s Foundation, Mission 44, To Tackle High Rate of School Exclusions Among Black Students

Sky, Europe's leading media and entertainment company, is today announcing a two-year partnership with Sir Lewis Hamilton’s charitable foundation, Mission 44, that aims to address the disproportionately high rate of school exclusions among Black students in the UK.

The partnership forms part of Sky’s £30 million commitment towards tackling systemic racism and will see Mission 44 receive over £1million during the two-year period.

Lewis Hamilton is personally driven to help address disproportionate exclusion rates as a result of his own experiences with behaviour management practises at school. His foundation, Mission 44, aims to support, champion and empower young people from underserved groups in the UK to succeed by narrowing opportunity gaps with a focus on education and employment. Research from Mission 44 shows that Black Caribbean students are 2.5 times more likely to be permanently excluded compared with their White counterparts.

Sky’s partnership with Mission 44 includes initiatives aimed at tackling the issue, including:

  • ‘Preventing exclusions’ grants: grant funding for Multi-Academy Trusts to invest in interventions that reduce school exclusion rates.
  • ‘Scaling impact’ grants: grant funding to support high potential or high impact interventions that prevent exclusions or improve trajectories of excluded students.
  • The ‘Included’ research project: a research project to amplify the voices of a group of excluded students to discover what support they need to achieve positive outcomes.
  • Early career insight programme: an early-career insight programme led by Sky to provide information, advice, and guidance on opportunities in the broadband and telecommunications industry for students at risk of exclusion and students already excluded from mainstream education.

These initiatives build upon findings from The Hamilton Commission report, which was published in July last year and found that behaviour management practises within UK schools were disproportionately targeting Black students and having an impact on their educational journey.

Announcing the partnership, Sky’s Group CEO, Dana Strong, said: “We are passionate about tackling racial injustice and welcome the opportunity to partner with Sir Lewis Hamilton and Mission 44 to champion and empower young people. We hope our partnership will support Mission 44’s work to improve the experience of Black pupils and support them to succeed at school and beyond."

Mission 44 CEO, Jason Arthur said: “Preventing school exclusions is an issue of social justice. Excluded students often must contend with a range of complex social and economic challenges, such as poverty, racism and mental ill-health, that cause them to face both disadvantage and discrimination in our education system. I’m delighted that Mission 44 will be working with Sky to transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable learners in our education system.”

Sky’s £30 million commitment to make a difference in communities impacted by racism; and use the power of its voice and platform to highlight racial injustice has already created a fund specifically to support Black business founders in the UK. Sky has also funded a three-year partnership with Kick It Out to drive inclusion in football and make it easier for football fans to report discrimination.

Sky also has a broad range of programmes in place to support young people. Through long-established programmes including Sky Academy Studios, The Edit and Sky Scholars, Sky has offered thousands of young the opportunity to learn, create, and excel in what they are passionate about. More recently, in 2021, Sky also launched the ‘Content Academy’, providing paid placements to trainees from groups that are underrepresented in the media industry. In its first year, Content Academy offered 36 placements across Sky Sports, Sky News, Sky Studios and UK Content by working with partners such as Mama Youth and Creative Access.

In January 2021, Sky set ambitious targets to increase ethnic diversity and representation across its UK workforce. By 2025, Sky is aiming for 20% of its employees in the UK & Ireland to be from Black, Asian, or ethnically diverse backgrounds, with at least a quarter of these being Black. This target also applies to Sky’s leadership team.

Notes to editors

Statistics on school exclusion:

  • Temporary exclusion rates for Black Caribbean students in English schools are up to six times higher than those of their white peers in some local authorities. (Source: The Guardian, 24 March 2021)
  • Black Caribbean students are permanently excluded at two and a half times the rate of their white peers (ONS, 2021)
  • Only 1.5% of excluded young people in alternative education achieve a strong pass in English and maths GCSEs (Source: DfE 2018, ‘Alternative Provision Tables’, GCSE and equivalent results in England 2016 and 2017)
  • Just 7% of permanently excluded pupils (or 18% of pupils who received multiple fixed period exclusions) achieve good passes in English and maths GCSEs. (Source: Timpson Review of School Exclusions, 2019)