Matt Rodda, summit rapporteur, reports from the morning session at Best in Class.

Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, reiterated the Government’s commitment to improving opportunities for disadvantaged pupils and challenged local councils to do more to improve schools, at a joint Sutton Trust and Carnegie social mobility summit, Best in Class, which was held today.

He made his comments despite Ministers being challenged on the expansion of academies and free schools.

Some of the toughest challenges in improving social mobility were discussed at the summit, such as the challenges of teacher recruitment and improving fairness in admissions.

Researchers, including Anna Vignoles, of Cambridge University, made contributions on the teaching workforce and admissions, while several participants who had managed schools discussed the difficulties of improving opportunities for disadvantaged pupils in England and the United States.

In his speech Mr Gibb praised the shared moral purpose about raising standards in education yet he said having a sense of this moral purpose alone was not enough, it also required greater political support from council leaders.

Mr Gibb singled out Knowsley as an authority which he said needed to change its approach.

He said civic leaders had prioritised a “comfortable status quo” for adults over the needs of children and young people. He said that the results for pupils in receipt of free school meals were too low and needed to improve.

Later in the morning session panellists discussed the range of challenges around teacher recruitment and admissions.

Professor Vignoles said that research had shown interesting differences in the distribution of experienced teachers and she hoped this would provoke more discussion of the difficulties faced by schools.

Becky Allen, of Education Data Lab, and Anne West, of LSE, discussed the difficulties for less advantaged families navigating school admissions, while Toby Salt, CEO of Ormiston Academies Trust, explained some of the challenges faced by academies raising standards in coastal schools or those in former industrial towns.

Saskia Levy Thompson, who was a senior leader in New York Schools, talked about the experiences of leaders and innovations in the cities schools, some of which were similar to those in England.


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