EEF welcomes Government’s new social mobility action plan

Education Secretary Justine Greening has unveiled her plan to improve social mobility, Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential. She set out four ambitions designed to boost outcomes for disadvantaged young people:

  • Ambition 1: Closing the word gap
  • Ambition 2: Closing the attainment gap
  • Ambition 3: Real choice at post-16
  • Ambition 4: Rewarding careers for all

Greening announced a range of measures to achieve these ambitions, including a £23 million ‘Future Talent’ fund to support high-attaining disadvantaged pupils – an initiative long called for by the Sutton Trust, which co-founded the EEF in 2011.

The EEF is referenced throughout, including our work with the Research Schools Network in the Opportunity Areas and a new partnership with the Department for Education to evaluate Early Years practice. The plan puts evidence at the heart of the strategy:

'Firstly, we will put a central focus on identifying and spreading ‘what works’, putting evidence at the heart of everything we do. The key challenge is now to spread what is working right here in this country to the areas and people that can benefit most. To achieve this, we will embed a clear focus on evidence-based practice – directly informed by ‘what works’ centres such as the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) – into our programmes and activity. And in turn, we will ensure rigorous evaluation of our approaches, helping to build the evidence base further and allowing us to monitor progress and adjust accordingly.'

Commenting on the plan, EEF Chairman Sir Peter Lampl, said:

We welcome today’s social mobility action plan. It will play an important role in enabling less advantaged young people to get on in life. We particularly welcome the Future Talent Fund, which will enable bright young people to fulfil their potential. We also welcome the new role for the Education Endowment Foundation to evaluate early years practice.

It is good that there is a focus on identifying ‘what works’, especially through working with the Education Endowment Foundation, and spreading best practice from high performing Local Authorities to underperforming areas.

However, there are areas where more should be done. We need to be sure that the resources are there to match the ambitions of the new plan, particularly to support good teaching in disadvantaged areas. Admissions policy seems to have put in the ‘too difficult’ box yet without reforming admissions poorer pupils will continue to miss out on the best schools.

We would like to see more done to ensure that disadvantaged young people progress to the best apprenticeships and that they don’t graduate with the highest debt. Internships should not be a barrier to social mobility – those over four weeks should be paid and advertised.”