Six more social mobility opportunity areas announced

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The Education Secretary has announced the expansion of the Opportunity Areas Programme, which aims to give children the best start in life, to a further six locations across England.


Education Secretary Justine Greening

Justine Greening named the new areas as Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland & East Cambridgeshire,  Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.

The programme, which sees local partnerships formed with early years providers, schools, colleges, universities, businesses, charities and local authorities to ensure all children and young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential, was launched in six ‘social mobility coldspots’ - Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, Scarborough and West Somerset - last October.

The Department for Education will target programmes to ensure children get the best start in the early years, to build teaching and leadership capacity in schools, to increase access to university, to strengthen technical pathways with young people, and work with employers to improve young people’s access to the right advice and experiences. It will also work with each opportunity area to respond to local priorities and needs.

Ms Greening said, ‘As the Prime Minister has set out, we are facing a moment of great change as a nation. With our departure from the European Union, we will need to define an ambitious new role for ourselves in the world. For Britain to succeed we must be a country where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and their hard work will allow. Education is at the heart of that ambition, and is central to breaking down the barriers to social mobility that too many face in our country today.

‘I want to see more disadvantaged young people attending the very best universities, winning places on apprenticeships, entering the top professions, and progressing through the most rewarding careers – and I want employers to do more to draw out the potential and talents of all.’

Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said, ‘Britain has a deep social mobility problem which is getting worse for a whole generation of young people and has left whole communities feeling left behind and socially hollowed out. One of the biggest barriers to social mobility in Britain today is an unfair education system, which is why the Commission has repeatedly called on the Government to tackle the issues that prevent children from fulfilling their true potential.

‘We therefore welcome the Education Secretary’s commitment to addressing disadvantage in some of the nation’s social mobility coldspots. For opportunity areas to be a success, we need local communities, employers, schools and universities to work together with Government to ensure that the chances of a child doing well in life no longer depend on where they have come from. We can no longer tolerate the quiet new assumption in many parts of the country that those from weaker economic areas have to move out to get on.’

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