9th February


MPs discussed the Sutton Trust’s Mobility Map during a Westminster Hall debate on the Social Mobility (and Child Poverty) Commission’s (SMCPC) Social Mobility Index , following its publication at the end of last month. The debate was led by Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North, who discussed the index in the context of poor social mobility outcomes in Norwich and Norfolk and welcomed recent efforts to address social mobility.

The Sutton Trust was mentioned by Lucy Allan, Conservative MP for Telford, Siobhain McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, and Justin Madders MP, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston and Chair of the Social Mobility APPG. The Education Endowment Foundation, our sister charity was mentioned in the response from Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson MP.

Justin Madders mentioned his role as Chair of Social Mobility APPG and that it was going to launch an inquiry into access into leading professions (the Sutton Trust is secretariat of the group). He said that the Sutton Trust pioneered the Social Mobility Index and discussed the background to our map. Madders also mentioned the importance of good teaching and the spreading good practice, as well as a need to replicate London challenge and attacked the abolition of maintenance grants. He said:

The commission’s social mobility index is not a new concept, as it was pioneered by the Sutton Trust last year through its mobility map…  Although the commission’s report considers local authorities, the Sutton Trust mobility map allows us to drill down into individual constituencies… a constituency basis is a much more useful indicator than a local authority one…

 For example, we know that the effects of good teaching are especially significant for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. In one year with very effective teachers, a child can gain 1.5 years’ worth of learning, so we need to consider better policies to incentivise teachers to work in disadvantaged areas… There is a huge amount of good practice out there. In London we have seen that, through concerted effort by a range of partners, the gap between the most advantaged and the most disadvantaged pupils can be reduced.”

Lucy Allan, also a member of the Social Mobility APPG, mentioned her constituency’s low ranking on the Sutton Trust Mobility Map, appearing to think it was this index they were debate. She said:

My constituency ranks in the bottom decile of the Sutton Trust’s social mobility index, with a ranking of 494 out of 533 constituencies in England. Telford has pockets of significant deprivation, and there is no doubt that that affects the life chances of our young people.

Siobhain McDonagh praised the Commission and Alan Milburn before saying she was also a supporter of the Sutton Trust and mentioned Missing Talent and statistics from both Background to Success. She said:

I have long been a great supporter of the Sutton Trust and its terrific work, of which the social mobility index is just one of many examples. I also endorse the conclusions of its report, “Missing Talent.”… As “Missing Talent” argues, we urgently need to incentivise better use of the pupil premium to ensure that disadvantaged pupils receive the focused support they need.

Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North and a Sutton Trust Summer School alumnus, also spoke in length during the debate discussing the success of the London Challenge and Excellence in Cities Scheme, calling for similar schemes to be run in “social mobility black spot post-codes”. Streeting also advocated re-allocating higher education funding to schools.

The Minister, Justin Tomlinson MP, listed the government social mobility policies from early years to housing to welfare reforms, as well as education. He mentioned the Prime Minister’s HE access target, the HE Green Paper, the Pupil Premium, the National Teaching Service and – encouragingly – the Education Endowment Foundation, noting the importance of needing to spread best practice. He said:

Also, £137 million has been invested in the Education Endowment Foundation to research and share best practice with disadvantaged pupils. There have been examples of really good best practice, and we should rightly do all we can to share that information as far as we can.

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