November was a busy month for the Sutton Trust with lots of parliamentary activities centered on education and social mobility. As well as the scheduled Education Oral Questions, the second reading of the Technical and Further Education Bill and several Westminster Hall debates on schools admissions, schools funding and apprenticeships funding, there was also the backbench debate on grammar and faith schools and the Opposition day debate on education and social mobility.

Grammar and Faith schools backbench debate:

 Moved by Lisa Nandy MP (Lab, Wigan) and Neil Carmichael MP (Con, Stroud) the debate called on the Government to ‘conduct a full assessment of the evidence relating to the effect of grammar schools and faith schools on children’s learning before finalising their decision to expand grammar schools.

The Minister (Nick Gibb MP) was urged to consider all of the evidence before making a decision and Sutton Trust research was used to convince the Government to rethink its policy. Lisa Nandy MP cited Sutton Trust’s 2011 report on Oxbridge admissions: ‘He also often mentions the Sutton Trust research. The 2011 report concluded: “Given their selective intake, grammar schools would appear to be underrepresented among the most successful schools for Oxbridge entry”.’

Barry Sheerman MP also mentioned the Sutton Trust as a way of challenging the Government’s position on grammar schools: “As chair of the advisory board of the Sutton Trust I get sick to death of Ministers in this Government quoting Sutton Trust research out of context and selectively. They should read the report and see what the Sutton Trust actually says.”

The Government is currently consulting on their plans for education reform, including the expansion of grammar schools.

Opposition day debate on education and social mobility:

 In a well-attended Opposition Day debate, Class Differences was the most popular piece of cited research with both Ian Austin MP and Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP referring to the research and highlighting the statistics regarding white working class boys.

Lucy Powell MP argued that the Sutton Trust was against grammar schools whilst Chris Philp cited the 2008 research arguing that the research was in favour of them.

Graham Brady MP cited the Trust’s research on selective comprehensive schools and Stella Creasy MP mentioned a 2014 Sutton Trust blog which looked at the background of some of the country’s top sport people. Finally, Dominic Raab highlighted his support for open access and mentioned the Trust’s work in the area.

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