20 years of social mobility research – Sutton Trust summit

Expert reaction to Sutton Trust summit findings on social mobility over time. 

Comment from Professor Alice Sullivan, Professor of Sociology, UCL Institute of Education:

“If we are to promote social mobility, we know that improving educational attainment for working class pupils is fundamentally important, and the best way to do this is to get excellent teachers into the schools that working class pupils attend. (Source: ‘Primary and secondary education and poverty review,’ Roxanne Connelly, Alice Sullivan and John Jerrim, Aug 2014).
This will not be achievable without tackling the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention. We also need to consider the future that younger generations are facing in terms of work, housing and wealth. Recent research shows how much less wealth younger generations in this country have than older generations did at the same age. (Source: ‘The economic circumstances of different generations,’ Jonathan Cribb, Andrew Hood and Robert Joyce, IFS briefing note, 2016).
And findings out this week showed the negative impact of zero hours contracts on the mental health of millennials.(Source: ‘Being on zero hour contracts is bad for your health,’ lead author Dr Morag Hennderson, UCL-IOE Centre for Longitudinal Studies 5 July 2017). This broader picture makes an exclusive focus on promoting social mobility into the professions seem increasingly problematic.”
Comment from Professor Anna Vignoles, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge:
“The UK is not as socially mobile as some other countries. Education is a major route to higher paid jobs and high status occupations and we therefore need to improve the education achievement of poor students if we are to improve social mobility.”

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