Social mobility programme for disadvantaged children set for expansion


A social mobility programme will be expanded to target more areas where youngsters are failing to achieve their potential, the Education Secretary will announce.

Improving opportunities for schoolchildren from disadvantaged backgrounds will help Britain succeed once it has quit the European Union, Justine Greening will say.

In a speech at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Cabinet minister will insist all pupils must be given the chance to use their talents as the country looks for an "ambitious new role" in the world.

The "opportunity areas" programme, which focuses on bolstering teacher support and improving schools as well as careers advice, mentoring and apprenticeship opportunities, will target social mobility "coldspots", Ms Greening will insist.

She will say: "As the Prime Minister has set out, we are facing a moment of great change as a nation. With our departure from the European Union, we will need to define an ambitious new role for ourselves in the world.

"For Britain to succeed we must be a country where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and their hard work will allow. Education is at the heart of that ambition, and is central to breaking down the barriers to social mobility that too many face in our country today.

"I want to see more disadvantaged young people attending the very best universities, winning places on apprenticeships, entering the top professions, and progressing through the most rewarding careers - and I want employers to do more to draw out the potential and talents of all."

Doncaster, Bradford, Fenland & East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich, and Stoke will join the six existing opportunity areas in the £72 million scheme, which also gives them priority access to a £75 million pot to improve teaching and school leadership.

A new fund, made up of  £1.5 million of Department for Education funding and £2 million from the Education Endowment Foundation, will be used to create new "research schools" in each area that will share evidence about the best ways of boosting the performance of disadvantaged pupils.

Ms Greening will add: "Opportunity areas will help local children get the best start in life, no matter what their background.

"Ensuring all children can access high-quality education at every stage is critical. We will focus not just on what we can do to help inside schools, but also create the opportunities outside school that will raise sights and broaden horizons for young people."