Class privilege remains entrenched as social mobility stagnates

Inequality is now entrenched in Britain from birth to work, and the government needs to take urgent action to help close the privilege gap, the Social Mobility Commission says today (Tuesday 30 April). GOV.UK reports.

The commission’s sixth comprehensive State of the Nation report looking at early childhood, schools, universities, further education and work reveals that social mobility has been stagnant for the last 4 years.

Extensive analysis of new Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows the wide gap in school attainment and income between the rich and the poor has barely shifted. Being born privileged still means you usually remain privileged.

Dame Martina, chair of the commission says: “It is vital that young people have more choice to shape their own lives. This means not only ensuring that they get better qualifications, but making sure they have an informed choice to take up an apprenticeship rather than taking a degree, to find a job which is fulfilling and the choice to stay where they grew up rather than moving away.”

The research shows that the most disadvantaged families are least likely to be aware of or benefit from the offer of 30 hours free childcare.

At present the offer is only given for 3 and 4 year olds when one parent works for 16 hours or more a week, but the middle classes benefit most.

Disadvantaged pupils start school years behind their peers in terms of attainment, but they can catch up with good schooling.

However, the latest figures show a 14 percentage point gap at aged 11, rising to a 22.5 percentage point gap at 19.

Twice the number of disadvantaged 16 to 18 year olds are in further education than in school sixth forms, but funding has fallen by 12% since 2011 to 2012. The commission calls for a significant increase in funding for all 16 to 19 year olds, and a special student premium for the disadvantaged.

49% of the poorest adults have received no training since leaving school, compared to 20% of the richest.

Findings include

  • by age 6 there is a 14% gap in phonics attainment between children entitled to free school meals and those more advantaged
  • by age 7 the gap has widened to 18% in reading, 20% in writing and 18% in mathematics
  • only 16% of pupils on free school meals attain at least 2 A levels by age 19, compared to 39% of all other pupils
  • twice the number of disadvantaged 16 to 18 year olds are at further education colleges compared to sixth-forms, and this segregation within the education system has risen by 1.2% since 2013
  • student funding for 16 to 19 year olds has fallen 12% since 2011 to 2012, and is now 8% lower than for secondary schools (11 to 15 year olds), leading to cuts to the curriculum and student support services that harm disadvantaged students
  • graduates who were on free school meals earn 11.5% less than others 5 years after graduating

Read the key recommendations Class privilege remains entrenched as social mobility stagnates

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