Social mobility is the extent to which an individual can lead a successful life irrespective of where they have started out. The UK is amongst the worst performing countries in the developed world in terms of social mobility. There has been very little improvement over the past 40 years and social mobility has remained largely stagnant during this period. The street a young person is brought up on effectively determines where they will end up later in life – a postcode pre-destiny in short. (Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission, “Cracking the Code: How Schools can improve Social Mobility”, 2014)

From as early as three years of age a cognitive development gap begins to emerge between children from advantaged backgrounds and their less fortunate counterparts. The most disadvantaged children are 19 months behind on school readiness at the age of five (ibid)

This disparity only widens throughout the different key stages, culminating in more advantaged students significantly outperforming those from more challenging backgrounds at GCSE and A Level. In short, “the higher the socio-economic group, the higher the achievement.” (ibid) Children from the most disadvantaged postcodes are three times less likely to go to university than those from the most advantaged backgrounds and are ten times less likely to go to the most selective universities (The Sutton Trust, “Extra-curricular Inequality”, 2014)

In spite of increased government funding to address this problem, the attainment gap has not reduced since 2011. Worse still, being born into a family at the top end of the income distribution spectrum is a stronger predictor of higher attainment now than it was back in the 1970s. Although only about 7% of students attend private schools, the most sought after universities and professions are predominantly occupied by those who were independently educated. Socio-economic background continues to be a central factor in the level of success an individual achieves. (The Social Market Foundation, “Educational Inequalities in England and Wales”, 2016)

It is apparent, therefore, that more needs to be done to tackle the attainment and inequality gap, otherwise a disproportionate number of students from state schools will continuously fail to achieve better results, graduate from top universities and occupy high level roles at the most prestigious professions. (The Sutton Trust, “The Educational Backgrounds of the UK Professional Elite”, 2016)