Children from poor families 'doomed' as social mobility stalls

Class divisions in the UK are just as wide as they were 30 years ago, according to new research published today.

They are so stark, according to the report, that a three-year-old child from a poor home who shines in tests is likely to be overtaken by a low-performing child from a rich background by the age of seven.

The report by the Sutton Trust, the education charity set up by Sir Peter Lampl, says social mobility in the UK remains at the low level set in 1970 when the country was bottom of an international league table. Only the United States amongst Western democracies is on a par with the UK.

It adds that children born today face "stark inequalities", with 44 per cent of young people from the richest fifth of the population going on to university, compared with only 10 per cent of those from the fifth of the population living in the poorest households. It also says that the expansion of higher education has almost exclusively been achieved by increasing the number of well-off students from middle-class or rich families going to university.

Indeed, the proportion of children from the poorest-income homes dropped from 11 per cent to 10 per cent between the early 1990s and 2002 while those from the richest groups rose by four percentage points.

Sir Peter described the report's findings as "shameful" and called for an independent inquiry into how to break down class barriers. "It is appalling that young people's life chances are still so tied to the fortunes of their parents and that this situation has not improved over the past three decades." Social mobility in the UK fell sharply between 1958 and 1970, according to the report, and has stagnated ever since.

Dr Jo Blanden, who wrote the report, said: "It appears that changes in social mobility may well have flattened out. However, at the same time, they have not reversed nor started to improve."

In his 10-year children's development plan published on Tuesday, Ed Balls, the Secretary of State at the newly created Department for Children, Schools and Families, set as a goal reducing the gap in educational achievement for disadvantaged children by boosting nursery provision for children from hard-up families.

Moves will also include setting a target that 90 per cent of youngsters should be able to read, write and add up properly by the time they leave primary school. At present, one in five mostly from disadvantaged homes cannot.

Meanwhile, the number of black students applying to Oxford University has soared this year, according to figures released yesterday. In all, 13,639 candidates applied an increase of 8.1 per cent on 2006. The number of black applicants, however, rose by 19 per cent with acceptances going up by 21 per cent.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Cover Supervisor for school in Leeds

£50 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Randstad Education are looking fo...

BTEC / A Level Business StudiesTeacher (Full time)

£100 - £160 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: BTEC and...

Maths Intervention / Learning Mentor

£60 - £80 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: We are loo...

KS2 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day + Flexible with benefits: Randstad Education Group: Key St...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London