Despite concerted efforts by schools to implement measures to improve results for less advantaged students, the absolute gains that have been made are effectively cancelled out by the relative progress in the performance of more advantaged students. The gap is not narrowing consequently.

Continuing extra-curricular inequality is the reason for this and highlights the difficulty in closing the gap. It is extremely hard to achieve parity if the cumulative effect of the mechanisms designed to disrupt the trend do not outweigh the impact of those that give rise to it. In short, the gap remains because advantaged families can support their children with extra tuition that provides a marked academic boost. What is more, they are able to offer their children the cultural and social experiences that help develop the soft skills sought by the elite universities and professional organisations. (The Sutton Trust, “Extra-curricular Inequality”, 2014)

It is important to note that the inequality in the uptake of extra tuition classes and social/cultural activities is not due to a lack of willingness on the part of low-income families but primarily because of an inability to consistently afford the cost of such activities. (The Sutton Trust, “Parent Power?”, 2013)

In light of this, the social mobility challenge is all the more profound, given the greater financial clout more advantaged families have to support the academic and personal development of their children that gives rise to future success at school and beyond.