Late interventions might be better than early ones

Improving schools can take social mobility only so far, says David Willetts, who suggests extra funding for adult education may be key

Better schools must mean better social mobility. That is the common sense idea widely shared across political parties. The good news is that school standards are rising and the gap in educational performance between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils is narrowing. But the uncomfortable truth is that there is no straightforward link between this better education and better social mobility. Here are three possible reasons.

First, even though state schools are free, they operate within a wider market economy. Even if parents cannot pay to get their children into what they see as a good school ...

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