The public overwhelming backs comprehensive schools rather than grammar schools to improve social mobility, a new poll has found.
The findings of an Ipsos Mori survey come in a new study published by the Sutton Trust today, which suggests that people are increasingly pessimistic about opportunities for the younger generation.
When asked to chose from a list of options that would most help those from less advantaged backgrounds get ahead in life, 47 per cent selected “high-quality teaching in comprehensive schools”.
This compared to 23 per cent who opted for lower university tuition fees, 8 per cent for access to grammar schools, and 7 per cent for “access to private schools for families who can’t afford it”.
Just 4 per cent chose high-quality nurseries or child care.
In a commentary, the Sutton Trust said: “While good teaching has regularly been shown to have the greatest impact on the attainment of disadvantaged pupils, also notable was the very low percentage for high-quality early years provision, suggesting that the professional consensus on the importance of early years for life chances has not necessarily translated to the public at large.”
The survey, which questioned 2,001 adults in the week of the general election, found that just two-fifths (41 per cent) agree that people have equal opportunities to get ahead, compared to more than half (53 per cent) who said the same in 2008.
Summer learning loss
The Sutton Trust also released research on the state of social mobility in the UK, carried out by the Boston Consulting Group, a management consultancy firm.
It called for action to address “summer learning loss”, which sees the educational divide between disadvantaged children and their peers widen over the long school holiday.
The authors said low-income students see their reading skills fall, while middle-income students experience “modest gains”, and said these differences were linked to differences in parenting and the home environment.
They said options to tackle the problem could include longer school days, with time dedicated to supervised homework, “as well as compulsory digital programmes to support learning through the summer”.
A Department for Education spokesman said more disadvantaged students than ever are attending university, and that the government was investing an extra £500 million a year into high-quality technical education.
He added: "We will also be building on the progress of our £72 million Opportunity Areas programme, which is bringing together local businesses, schools and councils in 12 social mobility 'coldspots' to create better opportunities for young people.
"This will help us to create a stronger, fairer and more prosperous society for every generation as we leave the European Union."