Election pledges must tackle social mobility in education

The Sutton Trust is calling on the political parties to place social mobility in the education system at the heart of their election pledges.

In a Mobility Manifesto, the Trust sets out a series policies designed to address issues affecting Britain’s low levels of mobility and widen access to education opportunities. These include ending social segregation in the best schools, banning unpaid internships and overhauling the university admissions system. 

The manifesto urges the major political parties to make admissions to all types of schools -including grammars, comprehensives and independents - fairer.

To make this a reality, the Sutton Trust would like to see state school admissions ensuring a better social mix across the system, with consideration given to ballots and priority for disadvantaged students, particularly to open up high performing comprehensive and grammar schools.

The opening up of Independent schools, on a voluntary basis, to pupils from all backgrounds. Entry to 100 leading independent day schools should be democratised through the implementation of the Open Access Scheme, where places are allocated based on academic merit alone, not money and parents pay a sliding scale of fees on what they can afford.
The Manifesto also calls for changes to the university admissions system, to reduce the gap at the most selective institutions between low income students and their better of peers. The Trust is calling on the next government to consider moving to a Post Qualification Applications (PQA) system, where young people apply to universities after they have received their grades. This would allow students to make an informed choice based on their achieved rather than predicted grades. A PQA system would also get rid of the increasing practice of unconditional offers.  Contextual admissions should be used by more highly-selective universities to open up access to students from less privileged backgrounds.

The manifesto also calls for better access to the best early years’ education for disadvantaged pupils by ensuring that early years’ practitioners are well-qualified.