Education gap between rich and poor continues to grow

The government must do more to help children from poorer
families achieve their full potential, a report published this week

The study for the Sutton Trust, a charity set up in 1997 to
improve social mobility through influencing education policy, finds
that it is getting harder and harder for children from less
affluent backgrounds to better themselves as the relationship
between parents’ income and their children’s
educational attainment grows stronger and stronger.

The study highlights the need for better early years’
provision, improved schools for poor communities and more financial
support to allow children to pursue further and higher

“This is the policy direction that the government seems to
be taking through programmes like Sure Start, Excellence in Cities,
and the Educational Maintenance Allowance,” the report
acknowledges. “However, the low level of inter-generational
mobility for children in Britain means that the current extent of
policy development is insufficient for the task at hand.”

In particular, the research highlights the dangers of the recent
introduction of top-up fees for universities in England and Wales,
pointing out that the expansion of higher education in the UK has
so far benefited those from richer backgrounds far more than poorer
young people.

“In the past, increasing the numbers of students has
failed to increase the participation of the poorest groups,”
the report says. “It is crucial that this situation changes
for further expansion of higher education and this is going to
require commitments to provide more generous grants, bursaries and
other measures to widen participation.”

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