Ten practical steps to improve social mobility include fairer grammar school admissions, no more unpaid internships and better early years education
The Sutton Trust is calling today for social mobility to be placed at the heart of the 2017 election campaign in a new Mobility Manifesto that sets out 10 practical and evidence-based policies designed to address issues affecting Britain’s low levels of mobility.
The manifesto urges the political parties to take steps to make grammar and comprehensive school admissions fairer. Research by the Trust has shown grammar schools and England’s highest performing non-selective schools to be socially selective. On average, 2.4% of pupils at grammar schools and 9% of those at one of the top 500 comprehensives are disadvantaged, much less than the average school (17%).
To change this, the Trust wants to see existing grammar schools do much more to attract low income pupils – through improved outreach, contextual admissions and priority places for poorer pupils who meet the entrance criteria – before their number is increased. To tackle ‘selection by house price’ at top urban comprehensives, the Trust is recommending increased use of ballots and banding – perhaps with half the places for those living nearest the school and half to those living further away using random allocation.
Today’s manifesto also urges the political parties to place disadvantaged pupils in the centre of their plans for school funding. It calls for continued support for the pupil premium for all disadvantaged pupils as well as guarantees that any new national funding formula recognises the need of those facing a ‘double disadvantage’ – poorer pupils living in poorer communities. With tight budgets, the Trust want to see all schools using evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit to inform their spending decisions.
The Mobility Manifesto warns that any efforts to improve social mobility must start before school begins, when there is already a 19-month gap in school readiness between the richest and the poorest tenth of children. The Trust want all disadvantaged children to have access to the best early years’ education by protecting educational funding and resources and ensuring that early years’ practitioners are well-qualified at a time when the focus is increasingly on childcare.
The Manifesto also calls for a ban on unpaid internships that are over four weeks long so that young people who can’t afford to work for free aren’t excluded from different career paths. Other recommendations include:
Sir Peter Lampl, Founder and Chairman of the Sutton Trust, said today:
“There is a clear recognition by all the main political parties that we need to do a lot more to improve social mobility. Today’s ten-point manifesto gives them evidence-based and practical ideas that could turn this consensus into radical change.
“Our recommendations range from giving all disadvantaged children access to the best early years education to ensuring that there are many more high quality advanced and higher level apprenticeships. Importantly, we need to intervene at every stage of a young person’s life, from before school starts, to university and beyond.”
For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Hilary Cornwell or Conor Ryan on 0207 802 1660.
NOTES TO EDITORS