Alongside the former Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, also speaking was James Turner, Deputy Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation; Professor Kathy Sylva, Honorary Research Fellow and Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Oxford; Professor Rebecca Allen, Director of Centre for Education Improvement Science, UCL Institute of Education; and Dr Vanessa Ogden, headteacher at Mulberry School for Girls.
My name is Michelle and in 2014 I was fortunate enough to participate in a medical summer school at Cambridge University ran by the Sutton Trust. Shortly after, I gained acceptance at King’s College London to study medicine. I am now in my second year of medical school and thoroughly enjoying it! The Sutton Trust opened many doors of opportunity for me and I am truly grateful for the influence it had in my decision to study medicine. I have always had an avid interest in widening participation at university for students from disadvantaged backgrounds like myself.
In May, I represented the Sutton Trust alumni at an APPG meeting on social mobility. The panelists and audience reflected a wide demographic of individuals who were engaging, challenged the discussion, and brought new depths to the future of social mobility policies. Some of the topics of conversation touched upon during the meeting were closing the attainment gap, increasing social mobility in the workplace and teacher development. A salient point made by Justine Greening (Former Secretary of State for Education) was that “macro-policies are not enough to change educational problems”. Throughout the discussion it was interesting to see how the research and experience presented by some of the panellists related to this statement. For example, the group discussed increasing the quantity of teachers across all schools in the UK. Upon discussion, it was evident that this may not be effective, as some areas such as the North West of England had a surplus of teachers so improving the quality of teachers would be more beneficial towards closing the attainment gap.
This meeting was very interesting in bringing to light the complexity of policy change for social mobility. I was able to understand and appreciate the importance of collaboration between researchers, teachers, students and the government in structuring and refining a future that will create and sustain equity in educational opportunities.