Two very interesting presentations at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility yesterday: Prof Paul Gregg (University of Bristol) reminded us that education is the 'key driver' in social mobility and that international studies show that the most socially mobile societies are those that spend the most on education.
Claire Crawford (Institute of Fiscal Studies) reported that although poorer students are now more likely than 10 years ago to reach basic national standards at 11 and 16, there has been no significant improvement in higher levels of achievement. So pupils on Free School Meals are more likely to get 5 A*-C grades at GCSE (so long as we do not include Maths and English). But once English and Maths are factored in, the gap in achievement between Free School Meal Pupils and the rest has hardly changed at all. This gap explains the later gap in Higher Education participation, with pupils on Free School Meals ten times less likely than their peers to attend a 'high status' university.
Claire Crawford's conclusion is that 'early interventions have the potential to be more productive than later interventions. The strongest evidence is for high intensity interventions .... one cannot just intervene once and sit back; early interventions are most productive when followed up: consistency matters.'
This was good to hear because starting early and working over the long-term are central planks in the IntoUniversity programme.