Social mobility strategy – progress report

The government has published a progress report on its social mobility strategy (launched in April 2011). It highlights a doubling of free early education places for disadvantaged children aged 2, the ‘pupil premium’ to help support the most disadvantaged young people through school, and the ‘youth contract’ to help young people needing extra help to earn or learn.

The report also sets out plans to publish a series of ‘trackers’ to monitor annually the impact of policies to tackle social mobility. These indicators will include:

  • School readiness – the proportion of children on free school meals achieving a ‘good level of development’ in the Early Years Foundation stage compared with other children.
  • Attainment at age 16 by free school meal eligibility – the proportion of children achieving grades A* to C in English and Maths at GCSE.
  • Young adults’ participation in full-time education – participation in education by those aged 18–24, by social background.
  • High attainment at age 19 by school or college type – proportion of children studying towards A-level qualifications at age 17 achieving at least grades AAB at A-level in key subjects.

Speaking at the report launch, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it is a ‘myth’ that a lack of social mobility simply reflects an unequal distribution of income. Countries with similar levels of income inequality have dissimilar levels of social mobility. It is therefore especially important to try to close educational attainment gaps, and to improve early years education.

But Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, addressing the same audience, accused the government of undoing previous gains. He highlighted the closure of Sure Start children’s centres, the scrapping of educational maintenance allowances and the raising of tuition fees to £9,000.

Source: Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers: A Strategy for Social Mobility – Update on Progress Since April 2011, Cabinet Office

Links: Report | Cabinet Office press release | Clegg speech | Miliband speech | BBC report | Guardian report | Times Higher Education report | April 2011 strategy document