The Sutton Trust has agreed to take over the Secretariat of the Social Mobility APPG and, on Wednesday 9th December, hosted the first meeting of the APPG for this parliament.

The APPG is Chaired by Justin Madders MP, Baroness Tyler, and its officers include Baroness Sharp, Baroness Morris, Baroness Lister, Frank Field MP, Jack Lopresti MP, Natalie McGarry MP, and Lucy Allan MP.

The agenda of the meeting was as follows:

  1. Welcome and introduction from the Chair Justin Madders MP and Co-Chair Baroness Tyler
  2. Social mobility until now, where we were and where we are – Professor Gregg, Professor of Economic and Social Mobility, the University of Bath
  3. Social mobility tomorrow, how to measure it and what it shows – Professor Sturgis, Professor of Research Methodology at the University of Southampton
  4. Social mobility today, the impact of educational disadvantage – Dr MacMillan, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Institute of Education
  5. How we can address social mobility – Conor Ryan, Director of Research and Communications, The Sutton Trust
  6. Questions and answers
  7. Next steps for the APPG

The meeting heard from three leading academics on social mobility in the UK, in particular on: how it compares internationally; how it is measured; the link to educational disadvantage; and suggestions on what we can do to address it.

The key points made were:

  • Professor Paul Gregg said that social mobility in the UK is among the lowest in the developed world on various measures, only consistently behind the United States.
  • Professor Gregg said there was a strong link between poor social mobility and poor access to elite universities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Professor Patrick Sturgis said we do not have sufficient data to measure current levels of social mobility accurately, especially if social mobility is going to be the policy that successive governments say it is.
  • Professor Sturgis suggested the government should allow census data to be linked with HMRC and DWP records, which he said can allow us to gain crucial insights into long-term trends in social mobility.
  • Dr Lindsey MacMillan said there is a persistent gap in the educational attainment of rich and poor pupils in the UK which the recent example of improved educational performance in London shows can be closed.
  • Dr MacMillan said privately educated pupils, even when doing the same job and having the same educational background, earn more than state school pupils, suggesting that other factors, including non-cognitive skills, are important.
  • Conor Ryan from the Sutton Trust called for the government to commission a programme to evaluate what works for improving the outcomes of highly able pupils from underprivileged backgrounds.
  • Conor Ryan argued for greater incentives to improve usage of the pupil premium, with rewards for outstanding performers built into the new school funding system to encourage good practice.
  • Conor Ryan said the huge sums spent by universities on outreach activity needs to be better evaluated so it is more effectively spent on what works to encourage disadvantaged pupils to enter higher education.

The Social Mobility APPG will now launch two inquires:

  1. How we can boost access into leading professions for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds;
  2. What the gaps are in social mobility/ levels of educational attainment in different areas across the country and how to spread what works to address them.

By following the imbedded link, you may find:

  • Minutes of the meeting, including key points and a more extensive summary (see top right).
  • Presentations by our speakers, Professor Paul Gregg, Professor Patrick Sturgis and Dr Lindsey MacMillan (see below).
  • Details of the APPG’s proposed inquiries starting next year (see top right, lower link).
  • An overview of the Sutton Trust’s programmes to address social mobility.
  • The Sutton Trust’s Mobility Manifesto of policy suggestions to address social mobility.
  • A Sutton Trust research brief on Missing Talent, showing how bright pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds under perform.
  • A link to the latest Sutton Trust research, including on how earnings for higher education compare against types of apprenticeships.
  • More on the work of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to trial and spread what works in educational practice.

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