Sky donates over £1million to Sir Lewis Hamilton’s Foundation, Mission 44, to tackle high rate of school exclusions among Black students

Monday 31 January 2022
  • Sky announces two-year partnership with Sir Lewis Hamilton’s foundation, Mission 44, to address disproportionate rate of school exclusions amongst Black pupils
  • Partnership forms part of Sky’s £30 million commitment to tackle systemic racism and make a difference in communities impacted by racism
  • Builds upon the Hamilton Commission which showed the disproportionately high incidence of exclusions of young Black students and the impact on their education

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.

Founder of Mission 44, Sir Lewis Hamilton, said: “Understanding and addressing issues that lead to young people being excluded from school is really important to me. Having experienced unfair exclusions during my time at school, I understand how upsetting and stressful it can be. When we launched Mission 44 last year, implementing initiatives such as these was a personal priority and I am grateful to have the support of Sky to help Mission 44 take action. Through this partnership, I hope we can deliver meaningful change by arming schools with the proper strategies to support and empower young Black students, instead of giving up on them.”

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)

About Sky

Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of Comcast Corporation. Across six countries, we connect our 23 million customers to the best entertainment, sports, news, arts and to our own award-winning original content. 

Following the launch of Sky Glass, we now offer customers our strongest ever line-up of products and services. As well as the new streaming TV with Sky inside and everything integrated, customers can enjoy the award-winning Sky Q with all your favourite channels and apps in one place, and with Sky Go you can now access an even better experience on your devices. Sky TV has new channels, new shows and new deals with Peacock, Paramount+ and more. Sky Mobile was voted Best Pay Monthly and Best Value Pay Monthly network by Uswitch, and with Sky Broadband we’re offering our fastest speeds yet.

Building on the success of Sky Originals like Chernobyl, Gangs of London and Brassic, we are doubling our investment in original content by 2024 through Sky Studios. Our new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, is expected to create over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK over the first five years alone. Sky News provides impartial and trustworthy journalism for free, Sky Arts is the UK’s only dedicated free-to-air arts channel making the arts accessible for everyone and Sky Sports, our leading sports broadcasting service, brings customers some of the biggest and best global sporting events from the Premier League to Formula 1 and everything in-between. Sky Cinema is the home of Sky Original films with brand new films launching every month alongside an unrivalled range of the latest cinema releases and on demand library.

We believe that we can be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. We’re committed to being Europe’s first net zero carbon entertainment company by 2030 and we’re proud to be a Principal Partner and Media Partner of COP26 – the UN Climate Change Conference. We take pride in our approach to diversity and inclusion: we’ve been recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our commitment to diversity, and we’ve set ambitious 2025 targets to continue to increase diversity and representation.  We’re also committed to investing £30million across our markets over the next three years to improve our approach to diversity and inclusion, and to tackle racial injustice. 

About Mission 44

Mission 44 is a new charitable foundation launched by Sir Lewis Hamilton to boost social mobility in the UK. It aims to support, champion and empower young people from underserved communities to succeed through narrowing opportunity gaps in education, employment and wider society.

Through grant-funding, research, partnerships and advocacy, Mission 44 is committed to driving long-lasting, transformative change to the lives of young people facing disadvantage and discrimination. The foundation will work closely with young people and communities with lived experience of diversity and inclusion challenges, to better understand the opportunities for innovation and co-create solutions that make a meaningful impact.

Mission 44 stems from Lewis’ decades-long fight for change, a fight that was further ignited by the events of 2020 and the inequalities brought into stark contrast by the effects of a pandemic. Having had first-hand experience of an education system that worked against him, and now as the only Black, working class person in his field, Lewis understands that addressing educational and employment inequalities is the necessary first step towards making a fair and equal society a reality.