Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), will become the "evidence champion" for the government's "opportunity areas".
Education secretary Justine Greening announced today that the charity leader will support the social mobility "cold spots" to better use evidence to improve the outcomes of disadvantaged young people.
Sir Kevan became chief executive of EEF in 2011 after previously leading the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. On his latest appointment, he said: “We know that there are big differences in social mobility across the country.
"Reaching those ‘cold spots’ is one of the biggest challenges we face in our drive to improve social mobility. Evidence of ‘what works’ is one of our most useful tools to do this.
"I’m looking forward to getting started as ‘evidence champion’ and bringing this to bear in these areas that need it most. By working with local partners, schools and organisations, we have the potential to really make a difference."
This morning, the education secretary also unveiled 11 new research schools to support social mobility "cold spots" at a summit hosted by the Sutton Trust.
The schools will each receive £200,000 over three years to become focal points of evidence-based practice in their region and build networks between large numbers of schools.
They will develop a programme of support and events to get more teachers using research evidence in ways that make a difference in the classroom.
Ms Greening said: "Teachers are key to making sure that young people can reach their potential, regardless of where they start in life, so helping the profession be the best it can be will help tackle social mobility.
"By gathering evidence on what works in the classroom and sharing the best practice with teachers we can help to level up the opportunities for every pupil.
"These research schools will accelerate the work that is already underway in our opportunity areas and as our 'evidence champion', I know that Sir Kevan will look to share these learnings with teachers across the country."
The 11 new schools, part-funded through the government’s opportunity areas programme and part of a joint initiative between the EEF and the Institute for Effective Education, are:
- Hastings Research School at Ark Blacklands Primary Academy
- Stoke-on-Trent Research School by The Keele and North Staffordshire Alliance
- Norwich Research School at Notre Dame High School
- Oldham Research School by The Greetland Academy
- Blackpool Research School at St Mary's Catholic Academy
- Doncaster Research School by Partners in Learning
- Scarborough Research School by Esk Valley Alliance
- Derby Research School at Wyndham Primary
- West Somerset Research School at The Blue School, Wells
- Bradford Research School at Dixons Academies
- East Cambridgeshire and Fenlands Research School at Littleport CP School