The Sutton Trust today welcomed the recommendations of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission on narrowing the attainment gap and improving access to university and the professions. Dr Lee Elliot Major, Director of Policy and Development at the Sutton Trust, said:

“Today’s report shows, that despite some progress, we still have a mountain to climb on social mobility if we are to narrow attainment gaps and improve access to university and the professions. But doing so has economic as well as social benefits, and could add up to £140 billion to GDP.

“The Sutton Trust has identified a 19 month gap in school readiness between the most and least disadvantaged children at age 5 that extends through school, and the Commission is right to focus on closing this disparity. The work of our sister charity, the Education Endowment Foundation, will be crucial in helping schools focus on proven programmes.

“In higher education, the Commission is right to urge better targeting of access funds, proper support for schools and colleges, and improved data so that we can measure impact. Getting it right on contextual admissions would ensure that bright students from underperforming schools have the chance they deserve to succeed.

“Despite the improvements in the numbers of young people going to university, the report rightly highlights that there has been a big drop off in part-time students, reducing the numbers of adults accessing a degree course and improving their own prospects.

”And as internships become so crucial in the labour market, they should be properly paid so that those from disadvantaged backgrounds are not kept off this crucial first rung on the career ladder in so many professions.”


  1. The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 140 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.
  2. The Education Endowment Foundation is a charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust, with a Department for Education grant of £125m. It is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Since its launch the EEF has awarded over £50 million to 93 projects working with over 60,000 pupils in 4,500 schools across England.
  3. The Independent Commission on Fees, which was set up by the Sutton Trust in January 2012, found there is still close to a 10 fold gap between the number of students from the most versus the least advantaged backgrounds entering top universities. Its latest report also found a 41% decline in part-time enrolments in 2012/13 compared with 2009/10.
  4. The Postgraduate Premium a report by the London School of Economics for the Sutton Trust looking at low levels of social mobility levels Great Britain and the United States of America compared to other countries concluded that expectation of ever higher levels of education contributed to this problem.
  5. Sutton Trust Social Mobility Report in 2012 found a 19 month gap in school readiness between the richest and poorest four and five year olds in the UK.
  6. The Boston Consulting Group calculated in 2010, in a report for the Sutton Trust, that  weakening the link between background and achievement in the UK would contribute between £56 billion and £140 billion to the value of the economy each year by 2050.

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