The Sutton Trust was founded by Sir Peter Lampl in 1997. The son of a Viennese émigré who came to Britain in the 30s, Peter attended grammar school and went on to study at Oxford. After a successful career in private equity, Peter returned to the UK in the mid-90s. Through visiting his old school and former college, he was struck by the decline in educational opportunities open to someone from his background.
Peter wanted to do something to change this. In 1997 the Sutton Trust was formed and ran its first summer school in partnership with the University of Oxford. 64 seventeen year olds from schools which
Oxford had never heard from spent a week experiencing life as an undergraduate, attending lectures, seminars, and social events. 16 out of 64 got in to Oxford and many of them went onto other leading universities. Since then we’ve worked intensively with over 50,000 young people and given them the opportunity to change their lives. We’ve also published over 250 pieces of agenda-setting research, many of which have influenced government policy.
Our work has put social mobility firmly on the map and established the Sutton Trust as the leading organisation in the social mobility space in the UK.
When I set up the Sutton Trust I wanted to make sure that all young people have access to the same life-changing educational opportunities that I did. We have spent over two decades fighting for social mobility across the UK, putting it firmly on the national agenda and supporting tens of thousands of young people.
Sir Peter Lampl | Founder and Executive Chairman of the Sutton Trust
Peter is the founder and the executive chairman of the Sutton Trust. He established the Trust in 1997 to improve social mobility in the UK. He has given over £50 million to the Trust. He is also chair of the Education Endowment Foundation funded by a Government grant of £135 million to raise the achievement of children in the most challenging schools.
In 1996 Peter funded the successful campaign to ban handguns in the UK in the aftermath of the Dunblane massacre. Before establishing the Sutton Trust, he founded the Sutton Company, a New York leverage buyout firm. Peter grew up in Yorkshire and Surrey, has three children and lives in London.
Social mobility is about ensuring the opportunities open to a young person are not dependent on the economic and social position they were born into. High levels of social mobility mean that people from all backgrounds are able to access the opportunities suited to their talents and aspirations. It’s crucial for creating a fairer society, fostering social cohesion and boosting economic growth.
Yet social mobility in Britain is low. For a child born in the UK today, their chances in life are strongly linked to their parents’ background. Those from high-earning families are more likely to end up going to the best universities and getting top jobs later in life. Put simply, if an opportunity exists, we believe it should be equally open to those from lower income homes as their wealthier peers.
The number of young people from across the UK who access a Sutton Trust programme each year.
The percentage of our students who moved from the lowest to the highest socio-economic groups after leaving university.
The number of agenda-setting research reports we've published since 1997.
The number of alumni in our alumni community.
The work of the Sutton Trust put social mobility on the map and has made the issue a key focus for policymakers, universities and employers. The Trust’s work triggered the creation of annual social mobility indicators by the government in 2011 and led to the establishment of the Social Mobility Commission.
In 2003, Hansard recorded just nine references to social mobility across both Houses and no debates on the topic, compared to 424 references and 15 debates in 2018.
The Trust’s work on early years has been influential in recent government policy. Our work on the Parental Engagement Fund (PEF) prompted the Department for Education’s strong focus on the home learning environment. The Trust’s work has also influenced childcare policy, highlighting the importance of a well-qualified workforce and the value of maintained nurseries.
In 2011, the Sutton Trust, as lead partner with Impetus-PEF, set up the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). In collaboration with the EEF, the Sutton Trust developed the Teaching and Learning Toolkit, which has since been recognised by Ofsted, the Department for Education and headteacher associations as an invaluable resource.
The Trust ran a pilot scheme of the Open Access programme in partnership with the Belvedere Girls’ Day School Trust, which resulted in a more representative social mix and improved academic standards. The Trust also established the Independent State School Partnerships fund with the Department for Education in 1998 which funded hundreds of projects between private and maintained schools.
The Sutton Trust’s annual Chain Effects report on Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) prompted the introduction of greater accountability measures for MATs, including the publication of academy trust league tables and the development of “health checks” to ensure underperforming MATs do not expand unless they deliver outcomes for disadvantaged students.
The Trust has been instrumental in influencing school admissions, with our research consistently raising the issue of the social selectiveness of leading comprehensive schools. The first studies the Trust published on top comprehensives raised the profile of this issue and influenced the 2008 Education & Skills Act which strengthened the statutory admissions framework.
The Trust’s work on ballots in 2007 influenced reforms to the 2009 admissions code, which noted that use of ballots can be good practice, particularly in urban schools, and allowed schools to implement random allocation for their admissions. In 2012, the admissions code was amended to allow academies and free schools to prioritise pupils eligible for the pupil premium in their oversubscription criteria, a policy that the Trust has long advocated for.
Our subsequent work on the issue led to the wider powers permitted under the current code in 2014, where all schools are now able to prioritise pupils eligible for both the pupil premium and early years premium.
The Trust’s research on grammars has been key in the access debate. In 2018, the government announced that existing grammar schools would only be able to expand if they demonstrated significant efforts to increase their intake of disadvantaged students. Our research has also influenced Kent County Council and the King Edward’s grammar schools in Birmingham to change their policies based on our recommendations.
A key rationale for setting up the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) was to ensure that schools were spending their pupil premium funds based on the evidence of what works. Through the Teaching and Learning Toolkit and the EEF, the Trust has encouraged schools to use evidence to inform their pupil premium spending. The Trust has also worked to ensure that pupil premium funds are protected through changes to school funding.
University admissions and funding
The Trust has set the terms of the current fair access debate, prompting action from universities and the government on outreach, evaluation, transparency and reporting. The Trust’s work on contextual admissions has placed it at the heart of the debate around widening access, with it now a strong priority for the Office for Students.
The Trust’s research on higher and degree-level apprenticeships has been key in informing the debate around the value of apprenticeships. Our work on apprenticeship quality helped put the issue on the agenda with policymakers, and we have ensured that there continues to be a focus on higher level apprenticeships within government.
Access to the professions
The Trust’s ongoing focus on the educational backgrounds of those in the top professions has put the issue at the top of the political agenda as well as on the radar of leading employers.
Our research on unpaid internships supported a private members’ bill banning unpaid internships of over four weeks through the House of Lords, and our work on careers guidance has formed key parts of the Department for Education’s Careers Strategy.