The Sutton Trust ensures social mobility is at the top of the political agenda. Having delivered successful educational programmes for nearly 20 years, we have built a reputation as a leading force for improving social mobility for the most highly able young people from low and middle income backgrounds. Working with the government, policymakers, leading political stakeholders and others, we influence policy debate through research, programme expertise and policy development. Our aim is to ensure the most able and disadvantaged young people have access to the best educational and career opportunities.

We regularly respond to government and select committee consultations and evidence sessions, produce briefings ahead of Parliamentary debates and questions, and influence the passage of legislation. Our expertise has been sought on a number of topics including on academies, school funding, careers guidance, early years, and higher education reform.


The Sutton Trust’s Mobility Manifesto sets an ambitious agenda to put social mobility at the heart of the 2019 election campaign, calling on all political parties to recognise the urgent need to address Britain’s low mobility problem. It contains wide-ranging policies covering everything from fairer school admissions, to early education and widening access to universities. It also urges a ban on unpaid internships, along with more degree and higher apprenticeships, as well as best practice in widening access in employment.
Read the Mobility Manifesto



To harness apprenticeships as a driver of social mobility, the Sutton Trust is calling for the government to focus on creating better apprenticeships, accessible to all. To maximise their impact, all apprenticeships should be of high-quality, with seamless progression and there should be a focus on creating more higher and degree level apprenticeships to ensure suitable alternatives for young people who do not wish to go to university.

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For young people who cannot afford to work for free, and for those who do not have the networks with which to secure a placement informally, internships are acting as a barrier to the best careers – and to social mobility.  Our latest analysis of internships in the UK found many internships to be unpaid, unadvertised and unfair, which is why we are supporting Lord Holmes of Richmond’s campaign to ban unpaid internships lasting over four weeks.

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Our Work

Policy Factsheets

“There is a low and declining percentage of the public (from 43% in 2003 to 29% in 2017) who believe today’s youth will have a better quality of life than their parents.”

Find the full factsheet on Social Mobility here.
“More than half of the gaps in achievement at age 11 are due to inequality that was already present at age five.”

Find the full factsheet on Early Years here.

“34% of adults in England aged 16-75 say a degree-level apprenticeship would be better for somebody’s future career prospects than a university degree, compared to 21% who think a traditional degree would be better.”

Find the full factsheet on Apprenticeships here.

Students from households in the lowest 40% of earners take on average debts of £51,600, compared to £38,400 in the top 20% of households.”

Find the full factsheet on Student Debt here.

The Sutton Trust’s Mobility Manifesto 2017 set out ten practical policy steps to put social mobility at the heart of the 2017 election campaign.

From early years education through to fair and transparent employment practices, we called for social mobility to be a key consideration for the new government in education and employment policy and practice. The manifesto urged better provision for disadvantaged pupils in early years and school settings, alongside dedicated funding for the highly able and fairer admissions to comprehensives, grammar schools and independent schools. It also called for a ban on unpaid internships, along with more advanced and higher apprenticeships, as well as best practice in widening access in employment.

Our Policies

Guarantee disadvantaged children access to high quality early years’ education

Improve the quality of classroom teaching

Ensure fair school funding and enhance its impact

Fairer school admissions to grammars and comprehensives

Support highly able pupils through a dedicated fund

Open up private schools

Promote essential life skills, extra-curricular activities and good quality careers guidance

Improve access for disadvantaged students to higher education

Create more advanced, high quality apprenticeships

Improve access to professional careers, including banning unpaid internships

View our Social Mobility Map: How does your constituency compare?

The Social Mobility Map is based on the Social Mobility Index, which looks at five measures of social mobility through education in each parliamentary constituency in England.

View Map

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