Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:
“Alan Milburn and his commission are absolutely right to urge ambitious measures to boost social mobility. Not only is there a strong social imperative to narrow the attainment and access gaps at every stage of a young person’s life, but there is an economic incentive as well.
“Access to our best universities and top professions is still too dependent on background. We need to improve access with better subject choices in schools and more focused outreach by universities. The best employers are diversifying their workforce with higher apprenticeships and fair internships. We need far more organisations to meet that challenge.
“It is vital that we focus on providing quality education in the early years, so that disadvantaged children gain the developmental skills they need to thrive and the gap in readiness between advantaged and disadvantaged children is reduced.
“We need to make sure that every child has access to high quality teaching by recruiting more good teachers and especially by boosting the quality of the 450,000 teachers already employed. This will be especially beneficial for poorer pupils as our research has shown that the difference between a good teacher and a bad teacher for this group is a whole year’s learning.”
Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:
“The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s call for a major new focus on closing the attainment gap is welcome. Although some schools are making excellent progress in narrowing the gap between their richest and poorest pupils, it is clear that some are not and nationally, the attainment gap remains large and persistent. If we are to achieve the Commission’s aim of bringing poor children across the country up to the current performance of their peers in Inner London, it is vital that schools use rigorous research to inform decisions about spending pupil premium funding. We need to embed research into schools, and for all teachers to see it as part of their armoury.
“The Commission is right to encourage collaboration between schools too. We need to find better ways to share best practice across the system so that schools who are improving results for their disadvantaged pupils can share their knowledge and successes with those doing less well.”