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Forgotten Forty

The INEOS Forgotten Forty project is a UK charitable initiative aimed at alleviating the negative impact of poverty on childhoods of children growing up in some of the most deprived regions of the UK.

The initiative began in early 2020 when INEOS Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe read reports of growing childhood poverty, and looked to do something novel to level up opportunities for all children to have a secure and enriching start in life.

The name “Forgotten Forty” refers to the estimate that, even pre-pandemic, the number of children living in poverty in the UK was predicted to be growing towards 40%. 

We know through existing evidence that

  • The best predictor of living a good and successful adult life is having a good childhood.
  • Children living in areas of multiple deprivation have poorer health and are more likely to underachieve at school and in their adult lives.
  • The drivers of underachievement include poverty, neglect, exclusion from opportunity and unmet childhood needs.
  • Early intervention through inclusion, nurture and effective teaching is a winning formula.

The initiative sought to work with and through primary schools, to reach children from a young age, in the environment they were in almost every day.

A team of passionate educational professionals, with well over 100 years collective expertise in working with disadvantage, in teaching, school leadership, inspecting and research, were brought on board to consider how funding might be creatively used to approach this longstanding problem from a novel angle.

The team consulted a number of UK primary schools serving some of the most disadvantaged postcodes in the UK, to explore how philanthropic funding might make a meaningful difference to the childhoods of their pupils. The feedback was vast and varied- and it became clear that since the effects of disadvantage manifest differently in different communities, there was no useful ‘one size fits all’ approach to improving childhoods.

It was clear that Headteachers, who are embedded in their local communities and understand the lives and needs of their students, are in a unique position to both identify the needs of the children and act to address them. Granting them the funding and freedom to come up with their own creative solutions to making a difference could spark fresh approaches to be tested and scaled.

In September 2020, the Forgotten Forty pilot kicked off. A group of Headteachers from 20 primary schools serving some of the most disadvantaged communities in the UK were each granted a £20,000 donation for the academic year, to use on initiatives they believed would make the most difference to transforming the childhoods of their pupils.

While the money could not be spent on additional teaching staff, very few other limits were placed on its use- and plenty of creative concepts were tested. Funding was spent broadly on enrichment activities, supporting family life, improving nutrition, and providing other forms of nurture, e.g. therapy support to help children deal with their challenges. Initiatives included:

  • A food bank for families in need
  • Christmas hampers and presents for families in need
  • A breakfast club for students
  • Residential visits (cultural, in nature) for years 5 and 6
  • In school and out of hours enrichment clubs
  • Counselling and communication sessions for struggling children
  • Buying reading books, and creating a 2-day reading festival
  • Buying Google Chromebook laptops for learning at home, paying for web connections for students

The pilot was a success, with all 20 Headteachers remarking on the positive difference the additional funding had made in the lives of their pupils.

The INEOS team decided to continue and expand the programme, to build a network of 100 Headteachers in primary schools serving the most deprived areas in the country.

We hope through this to create meaningful change in the lives of thousands of children, and grow our understanding of scalable interventions which could be carried forward.


  • Focuses on alleviating the effects of poverty, not simply raising attainment. Headteachers are identifying barriers (social, emotional, mental health, family issues) that affect learning- and resolving them, all the while inspiring and motivating children by expanding their horizons.
  • Money goes direct to schools, with no middleman
  • Minimal unnecessary admin required by Headteachers
  • Designed by teachers, in consultation with teachers (much like The Daily Mile)


A map of the full group of 100 schools will be displayed on the upcoming Forgotten Forty website. As might be expected, these align with the areas of greatest social and economic deprivation in the UK, with many being concentrated around the NE of England.


A rigorous set of selection criteria were used to select the Forgotten Forty schools. These included deprivation level (all in government Index of Multiple Deprivation Decile 1), Free School Meals uptake (a solid proxy for household poverty), school size, school management structure, and school leadership (preference to work with experienced headteachers).

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Charities And Foundations

Through our programmes, partnerships and philanthropic donations, INEOS supports a diverse range of health, education, conservation and...

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