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Working to improve social mobility across the country

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Today our blog looks at three separate reports on social mobility, children’s services and university admissions.

Social Mobility Commission Report

Yesterday, Tuesday 30 April, the Social Mobility Commission published its first annual State of the Nation report since Dame Martina Milburn became Chair of the Commission. Recommendations made in the report include extending eligibility for the 30 hours free childcare offer, as well as raising per pupil funding for those aged 16 to 19. The report was covered by the Guardian, the Times, the Telegraph, the Independent, the Financial Times, the Mail, the Mirror and I News.

We are investing more than £3.5 billion this year alone in free early years education, and our 30 hours offer already support many families from lower incomes. More than 700,000 of the most disadvantaged two year olds are benefitting from our 15 hour offer.

For 16 to 19 year olds, the national funding formula includes extra funding for disadvantaged students and we have protected the base rate of funding until the end of the current spending review period in 2020. In addition to this, the proportion of 16 and 17 year olds in education or apprenticeships is at a record high.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

We want to create opportunity for everyone. Employment has risen in every UK region under this government, wages are outstripping inflation, the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has narrowed and the proportion of 16 and 17-year-olds in education or apprenticeships is at its highest ever.

We are supporting pupils to thrive at every stage – setting a 10-year ambition to boost children’s early reading and communication skills, transforming technical education and providing coaching for young jobseekers.

But we must all work together to create change in the lives of the most disadvantaged. I welcome Dame Martina’s leadership in this area, shining a light on where we can continue raising the bar.

HCLG Select Committee Report

Today, Wednesday 1 May, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee has released a report on children’s services. The report is the result of an inquiry the committee launched in February and claims that children’s services core funding needs to be increased by £3.1 billion. This was covered by BBC Online, the Independent and in brief by the Mirror.

Core spending power increased from £45.1 billion in 2018 to 2019, to £46.4 billion in 2019 to 2020, giving councils access to increased resources. Ahead of the Spending Review we are working closely with the sector to understand the complex reasons behind increasing demand.

A Government spokesperson said:

Every child deserves to grow up in a stable, loving family where they feel supported.  We must help parents who face difficulties, to strengthen their family relationships so they can properly support their children.

That is why we’re putting an extra £410 million into social care this year, including children’s – alongside £84 million over the next five years to keep more children at home with their families safely, helping reduce the demand on services.

The number of children’s services rated outstanding is growing, and the number rated inadequate has dropped by a third since 2017 – from 30 down to 20. To help continue this trend we are raising the bar in our social work profession, by focusing on improved training and recruitment.

Office for Students Report

Today, the Office for Students published a report on admissions to universities. The report calls for disadvantaged students with lower A Levels to be admitted to the most selective universities via more flexible admissions processes. This was covered by the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Times, the Independent, the Mail and the Sun.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

A university education should be available to everyone who has the talent to benefit from it and we have made great progress in ensuring universities are open to all, with record rates of disadvantaged 18-year-olds in higher education. But there is more to do and we know that contextual offers can play an important part in levelling the playing field so those from disadvantaged backgrounds can flourish in higher education.

I want institutions to consider a broad range of information in their offers, including the context in which a student’s results were achieved. I recently announced a review of how current admissions practices can be improved, and I want to see universities progress in their efforts to improve access and successful participation for underrepresented groups so that our world class university system can truly make the most of the talent and potential out there.

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