Sir Peter Lampl writes for The Times on 15 years of the Sutton Trust.
Fifteen years ago, I set up the Sutton Trust to improve social mobility. I wanted to ensure that bright children from low or middle-income homes stood a fair chance of going to a top university or into a leading profession.
There has been progress, but our elite institutions remain largely closed to those without the right school ties or networks. Politicians see social mobility as a major issue. Thanks to summer schools and outreach programmes, the gap has narrowed. In 1997, 49 per cent of entrants to Oxbridge were from state schools; now it is 59 per cent. Some professions, notably law, are reaching out to young people of all backgrounds. But we have a long way to go.
Our independent schools educate 7 per cent of the population, but 44 per cent of leading people are privately educated.
We need to improve nursery education and teaching in schools. Our most able youngsters should have access to leading independent day schools based on merit, not money, and targeted support in comprehensives.
Our universities must do more to raise aspirations and our professions should open internships and job opportunities based on merit alone.
The Sutton Trust and our sister charity, the Education Endowment Foundation, will play their part. But social mobility is still a challenge for us all.
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