Social mobility - still on the cards?

When Theresa May became Prime Minister, she stated her focus would be on the 7 burning injustices facing Britain – with social mobility – your job and earnings being determined by your background rather than the opportunities available, being a key driver of her time in number 10.

On Monday, Education Secretary Damian Hinds restated his support for the social mobility agenda at an event in the Department for Education where he stated his view that ‘what parents do is actually more important than who your parents are’.

The Guardian reports that ‘Hinds said growing up in households where arguments were frequent and parents were disengaged from their children’s education had the effect of nine grades at GCSE level on a child’s attainment’. He went on to say that ‘if we are serious about social mobility we have to go there, we have to care about the home learning environment because it is going to determine the futures of a lot of those children’.

It’s true a supportive home learning environment can contribute to the success of young people. It is interesting to contrast this view with the findings of the recent Social Mobility Commission report, which although focusing on adult skills, states that ‘Children of high-skilled parents are more likely to be high-qualified and in high-skilled jobs themselves, both of which increase access to training’. Could it be that these factors feed into each other, and it is our job in the education sector to provide whatever additional support we can to those who are less advantaged, or have a less supportive home learning environment?

This is a challenge to whoever will be the next Prime Minister and education secretary, but it is somewhat reassuring to see that social mobility remains a driver for policy at the Department for Education.