Cross-party MPs join together to debate ‘social mobility crisis’

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Nick Clegg, Nicky Morgan and Lucy Powell have joined forces to warn that despite measures by successive governments, Britain faces a social mobility crisis.

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The former shadow education secretary Lucy Powell, was one of three MPs that led the debate on social mobility

The former former deputy prime minister, education secretary and shadow education secretary are leading a backbench business committee debate on social mobility today, in which they referred to findings from the Social Mobility Commission’s annual report that warned social mobility is getting worse.

According to the Commission’s State of the Nation report, published last November, by the age of five children from more disadvantaged backgrounds are already far behind their peers. It found that nearly half of low-income children do not reach a good level of development and in the last decade 500,000 poorer children were not ‘school-ready’ by the age of five.

Other findings included:

  • By the age of 16, just one in three low-income children gain give good GCSEs, including in English and maths. Over the last five years, 1.2 million 16 year olds, mainly from low-income backgrounds, have left school without five good GCSEs.
  • By the age of 25, many of these children will be in low-skilled, low-paid jobs. Only one in 10 low-paid workers, who are mainly women, escape low pay.
  • If current trends continue, nine million low-skilled people could be chasing four million jobs, with a shortage of three million workers to fill 15 million high-skilled jobs by 2022.

The three cross-party MPs called on the Government to lead a renewed approach in the early years, in education, skills and housing, to improve social mobility.

Earlier this week, the three MPs wrote a joint letter published in The Observer outlining their opposition to the creation of more grammar schools.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Labour MP Lucy Powell said, ‘For too long social mobility has been about the council house to Cabinet table story, leaving far too many people on the scrap heap. Working together, across the House of Commons we will now champion what works to improve social mobility – high quality early years services, excellent teachers in all our schools with a focus on tackling disadvantage and giving all our young people the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. We will also work to stop the expansion of selection in our education system which will not solve the social mobility crisis we face, but set it back.’

Conservative MP Nicky Morgan said, ‘Every generation expects there will be greater opportunities for their children and grandchildren. At the moment that social contract and expectation of social mobility has broken down in parts of our country and amongst some groups of people. Education is a key driver of social mobility but often in those parts of the country there is little educational aspiration and underperformance is entrenched.  Tackling this should be the focus of Government, not expanding selection.’

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