further & higher education
primary & secondary education

Working in Partnership Across the Education System to Improve Social Mobility

further & higher education

primary & secondary education

08:45 - 15:50

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Hallam Conference Centre, Central London

This Forum will provide delegates with the opportunity to examine progress made two years on from the first wave of social mobility opportunity areas pilots. Attendees will discuss the government’s strategy with leading policy experts and establish what lessons need to be learnt to improve social mobility throughout the education process. Participants will also explore innovative ways of working in partnership across agencies to enhance career opportunities and improve early years attainment for disadvantaged pupils.


This Forum is specifically designed for the Education and Local Authority Sectors. Typical job titles will include:

  • Improvement Officers
  • Outreach and Access Officers
  • Widening Participation Managers
  • Directors of Education
  • Head Teachers
  • Deputy Head Teachers
  • Directors of Children’s Services
  • Chief Executives
  • Programme Managers
  • Careers Advisers
  • Admission Officers
  • Directors of Partnerships
  • Heads of Access and Inclusion

The Forum is also open to the Voluntary and Private Sectors in order to encourage debate and networking.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Jamie Weatherhead, Head of Delivery, Social Mobility Opportunity Areas in Norwich; Fenland & East Cambridgeshire; and Ipswich, Department for Education (DfE) 
  • Anna Frazer, Head of Employer Engagement, The Careers and Enterprise Company
  • Jo Hutchinson, Director for Social Mobility and Vulnerable Learners, Education Policy Institute (EPI)
  • Baroness Clare Tyler, Co-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility
View the agenda and additional speakers


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Dr Abigail McKnight, Associate Director and Associate Professorial Research Fellow, CASE, London School of Economics (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Reviewing the Progress of Opportunity Areas and the Implications for Future Policy

  • Reviewing progress on Opportunity Areas, including what has been delivered and the extent to which they are meeting the priorities and targets set out in the delivery plans
  • Discussing the challenges faced within the first two years of the opportunity areas programme and lessons learned
  • Considering implications of the programme for future government policy

Jamie Weatherhead, Head of Delivery, Social Mobility Opportunity Areas in Norwich; Fenland & East Cambridgeshire; and Ipswich, Department for Education (DfE) (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Taking an Early-Intervention Approach to Closing the Attainment Gap

  • Outlining the findings of the Education in England: Annual Report 2018, including the progress made in closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their peers
  • Examining the drivers of the attainment gap, such as maternal health and wellbeing and structural differences in schools with a high intake of disadvantaged students
  • Outlining recommendations to tackle these
  • Prioritising pupil well-being, including a lack of sense of belonging and self-esteem, to help eliminate the different experiences of disadvantaged students in school and consequently improve social mobility
  • Exploring how schools and colleges can close the attainment gap for vulnerable learners, for example by utilising certain teaching practices, such as pre and over-learning in lessons

Jo Hutchinson, Director for Social Mobility and Vulnerable Learners, Education Policy Institute (EPI) (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Special Keynote: Addressing Geographical Variation in Social Mobility

Baroness Clare Tyler, Co-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Working in Partnership to Close the Early Years Gap - A Local Authority Perspective

  • Examining Flying Start, Luton’s strategy for early year’s language development, which was praised by DfE in their Social Mobility Strategy
  • Promoting an integrated approach to closing the attainment gap: working in partnership with schools, families and community services to improve outcomes for children and young people
  • Developing the Easy Peasey App, which supports learning through play at home, helping to develop the essential communication, language and literacy skills children need
  • Providing opportunities for early years professionals to access high quality and evidence based learning and development courses, to ensure that all pupils receive outstanding early years education
  • Helping parents to support their child’s learning through providing workshops, courses and PEEP sessions, which enable families to access activities to support learning at home

Cllr Mahmood Hussain, Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, Luton Borough Council (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Enhancing Social Mobility by Improving Access to Higher Education

  • Developing an outstanding outreach programme which specifically targets groups under-represented in higher education to aid their progression to higher education
  • Examining the importance of working closely with Admissions colleagues as part of widening participation and how contextual admissions can levy changes alongside widening participation work
  • Developing a culture which supports high attainment levels throughout education regardless of students’ background
  • Moving away from a deficit approach in widening participation

Kirsty Wadsley, Head of Widening Participation, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Special Keynote: Working in Partnership with Enterprise to Promote Career Opportunities for Disadvantaged Students

  • Developing ‘career hubs’ which link colleges, schools, universities and others together to share best practice, pool resources and improve careers services
  • Connecting employers to schools to enable pupils to engage with businesses and improve their career outcomes
  • Ensuring all students have access to four quality encounters with an employer, to provide opportunities for work experiences and improve social mobility
  • Targeting ‘career cold spots’: Considering how to improve access to advice, information and opportunities for work experience for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Sharing best practice in supporting adults to retrain or upskill, and examining the impact this can have on social mobility

Anna Frazer, Head of Employer Engagement, The Careers and Enterprise Company (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Utilising Evidence-Informed Teaching to Improve Social Mobility

  • Examining the role of research schools within regional and local school opportunity areas, including opportunity areas, and how they utilise evidence based practice to improve attainment for disadvantaged pupils
  • Working in partnership across the schools network in the region to share best practice and pool expertise
  • Signposting to high quality evidence led teaching to support teachers in delivering effective evidence informed teaching
  • Supporting school leaders in effective implementation of school improvement activity

Andy Samways, Director, Samuel Ward Research School (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Improving Social Mobility Through Extra-Curricular Activities - A Voluntary Sector Perspective

  • Examining the work of the Youth Sports Trust in measuring and improving the impact of extracurricular activities on social mobility
  • Outlining how outdoor learning can improve social mobility by improving attendance, academic achievement and health
  • Discussing how extra-curricular activities can encourage young people to become more engaged with their education and increase their self-esteem
  • Boosting student mental wellbeing and boosting confidence through the provision of leadership opportunities
  • Examining the role of the voluntary sector in working in partnership with education institutions, local authorities, businesses and third sector organisations to enhance social mobility

Will Roberts, Director of Operations, Youth Sports Trust (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Establishing an Innovative University-School Partnership to Improve Social Mobility

  • Working in partnership with local schools, local authorities, students, parents and business sponsors to deliver the Urban Scholars Programme, which raises aspirations and enhances opportunities for able students from socially deprived areas
  • Examining how an evidence-based intervention can raise self-confidence, resilience, a goal-setting capacity and rational thinking
  • Tutoring students on the university campus to build up a varied set of skills, such as mathematics, speaking, critical thinking, presentations and enhancing their aspiration
  • Highlighting how the programme has led improved attainment and enhanced opportunities for students, including progressing onto Russell Group Universities
  • Employing successful alumni to return to the programme as mentors, student ambassadors and leading workshops

Carole Portman Smith, Urban Scholars Programme Director, Brunel University London (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

According to a July 2018 DfE report, children eligible for free school meals are 23% less likely to be in sustained employment by the age of 27 in comparison to their better off peers, with SEND pupils 25% less likely. The early years attainment gap is more evident than ever. Disadvantaged children, on average, are already four months behind by the age of five. In addition to this, the government had acknowledged that, at the current rate, it will take 120 years before disadvantaged teenagers are as likely as their peers to get equivalent qualifications.

Despite a huge increase in investment, the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their better off counterparts remains a significant issue. In October 2016, the government announced £60 million of funding for social mobility ‘opportunity areas’. The first six announced would act as partnerships between early years providers, schools, colleges, universities, businesses, charities and local authorities to increase education standards for children from disadvantaged areas.

The next six opportunity areas were announced in January 2017, alongside an additional £3.5 million funding, to support the establishment of a research school within each opportunity area to develop high quality evidence informed teaching to improve outcomes for disadvantaged students. In December 2017, the government published Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential, which outlines the next steps to be taken to improve social mobility within education. This includes initiatives to close the early years gap, improve access to university for disadvantaged students and make technical education a first-class pathway to employment.

A further £30 million was announced in September 2018 to encourage projects from leading schools to develop innovative approaches to create new high-quality nursery places, alongside a further £20 million to train early years professionals.

Given the stark and worrying attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their better off counterparts, it is imperative that education institutions, local authorities and voluntary organisations are prepared to take the next steps essential for improving social mobility. To extract the greatest benefits from the government’s fresh focus on social mobility policy and funding then effective partnership working, heightened quality of teaching in early years and post-16 and providing better career guidance and experience for disadvantaged students will be a must.

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