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Our research

The Sutton Trust has produced and commissioned over 180 pieces of research on policy and practice across the broad and complex area of social mobility – from the early years through to university access – reflecting the varied obstacles facing young people from non-privileged backgrounds.

Our research has produced some astonishing statistics which reveal the current state of low social mobility in the UK and the disproportionate representation of the most affluent independent school students in top universities and professions. In this way, our research informs government, educational practitioners and policy-makers, helping to shape education and employment policy and practice.

Latest research and some from the archive

Selective Comprehensives 2017

The best schools in England fall into three main groups: independent schools, grammar schools, and top performing comprehensive state schools, which are in theory open to all (subject to certain conditions of geographical proximity or religious faith). However, this ideal of openness regardless of parental income or family background is far from the case in reality. England’s top comprehensive schools are, in practice, often highly socially selective, admitting much lower proportions of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds than the average, and even than the profile of children in their immediate locality. Read more>>>

Ballots and Banding (2014)

This report provides key findings from a two part research project funded by the Sutton Trust and the LSE focusing on secondary school admissions in England. The research analyses secondary schools’ admissions criteria and practices in England in 2012/13 and illustrative examples of how some local authorities and schools use pupil banding as part of the Year 7 admissions process. Read more>>>

Selective Comprehensives (2013)

This study looks at publicly available data on the proportion of pupils eligible and claiming for free school meals (FSM) in the top 500 comprehensive state schools and at how representative they are of their localities and of their school type. We have looked at the top 500 when measured by five good GCSEs including English and Maths and at the top 500 measured according to success in the relatively new English Baccalaureate (EBacc) league table measure. Read more>>>

Parent Power (2013)

This report uses YouGov polling to present a fascinating insight into the extent to which professional parents are able to gain an advantage over other families in the school system. Read more>>>