Accessibility Links

Schools 'can play more of a role in improving social mobility'

29/06/2017 Joanna

UK schools have been urged to address the persistent gap in attainment that exists between children from richer and poorer backgrounds.

A report from the Social Mobility Commission has examined the results of efforts to improve social mobility in Britain over the last two decades, indicating that new approaches may be needed to make significant progress.

Looking specifically at schools, it was noted that reforms to schools have yielded success in improving results and raising standards, but also that two-thirds of children on free school meals do not get good GCSE grades.

Additionally, significant progress in reducing the attainment gap at primary school level has not been reflected in secondary schools, with no solution in sight for closing the divide among GCSE and A level students. It was also noted that geographical inequality among the poorest children in England has increased in the last two decades, as attainment in London schools has greatly outpaced the rest of the country.

To address this, the commission called for a new target of closing the attainment gap at GCSE level to be adopted by lawmakers, with inspection regimes and resource allocation to be adjusted to reflect this goal.

It was also suggested that new incentives be introduced to attract and retain the best teachers to needy schools - including a new emphasis on continuing professional development - while the development of a more balanced curriculum that incorporates social and emotional learning and careers advice was also recommended.

Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said: "There is hunger for change. The policies of the past have brought some progress, but many are no longer fit for purpose in our changing world. New approaches are needed if Britain is to become a fairer and more equal country."

Add new comment