Call for evidence


All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility

Inquiry into the Regional Attainment Gap


The All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility and the Sutton Trust has launched its next inquiry examining the differences in addressing educational disadvantage across the UK and how we spread what works to address it.  Together we will investigate not only why the regional attainment gap exists but also what can be done to address it and to share best practice across the country.

The Ofsted Annual Report 216 found that “Secondary schools have improved but the gap between the North and Midlands and the rest of the country has not narrowed, in fact, it has widened slightly”.

The Sutton Trust and its sister organisation, the Education Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) own findings have shown that this is not simply a matter of north and south, but disparities between coast and country, suburb and city, as well as between constituencies and local authorities.

The Education Endowment Foundation is pioneering the way in evidence driven teaching in order to find out what works in raising attainment. Working within the opportunity areas and with research schools, the EEF is communicating new and existing evidence in what works to raise attainment, delivering CPD on how to improve classroom practice based on the best evidence available, and supporting schools to innovate and develop and evaluate new ways of improving teaching and learning.

Paired with this, the Sutton Trust’s own research has mapped the overall social mobility of each constituency through its Mobility Map. The Mobility Map examined five indicators of social mobility (performance of disadvantaged pupils in early years test, performance of disadvantaged pupils in Key Stage 2 tests, performance of disadvantaged pupils at GCSE, progress of non-privileged/disadvantaged pupils to universities and progress of non-privileged graduates to professional occupations) and included a ranking of disadvantage within each constituency to help put the results in context.

It found that as well as variations between the North and South of the country, there were also gaps between coastal and inner city areas, and even between neighbouring constituencies. The Social Mobility Commission has since highlighted that the London regional average for the percentage of FSM-eligible children gaining five good GCSEs (45.8 per cent in 2015) is 50 per cent higher than the other eight regions combined.

The government has started to address this regional attainment gap with the introduction of opportunity areas and research schools, as well as their push towards creating a ‘Northern Powerhouse’. However, many challenges remain in learning about what works in closing the attainment gap, and how this best practice can be shared across the country.

This inquiry will ask five questions to representatives from experts and practitioners who are working to address the gap: 

  1. Why does the regional attainment gap exist?
  2. What challenges do areas face in closing the attainment gap?
  3. What do we know is working to improve attainment and close the gap?
  4. How do we share this best practice across the country?
  5. Are there education policy changes which could negatively impact the attainment gap?

The Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation are continuing to research what works to close the attainment gap. Through this inquiry we would like to identify what is being done to ensure that attainment is being raised, especially in those areas of high deprivation.  

We would welcome written evidence from employers, charities, schools and practitioners, and campaigners outlining what organisations are doing to address the attainment gap between different areas and to raise attainment. More details can be found below.

Written Evidence – questions to address

We would welcome written evidence throughout the course of this inquiry. Submissions can focus on one particular aspect of the inquiry or seek to address all questions.

The deadline for submissions is 6.00 pm on Monday, 21st May 2018

Please keep your answers as focused and as concise as possible, limited to about 1500-2000 words.

 1. Where do you see the biggest challenges in terms of regional attainment gaps?

 2. What challenges does your area/do areas face in closing the attainment gap?

  1. Are these challenges unique to your area?
  2. Are there other areas which you have identified as having similar challenges?
  3. How long have you been facing these challenges/have they gotten better or worse?

3. Can you provide examples of what your organisation is/what organisations are doing in order to address the  attainment gap?

  1. Are there any small scale initiatives which have been put in place to address the gap?
  2. What were the challenges you have faced in setting these up?
  3. Is there any evidence of them working?

4. Do you have any examples of where you have shared best practice with other organisations or they have with you?  

  1. How did you identify them as individuals/organisations to approach?
  2. Were there any obstacles you have faced in sharing best practice?
  3. Was the best practice easy to put in place and if not, what would have made it easier?

5. Are there education policy changes which could negatively impact the attainment gap?

  1. Is there any evidence of particular national policies which are widening the gap?
  2. Are there any policies which should be put in place immediately to narrow the gap?

 For further details please contact:

Javneet Ghuman, Parilamentary and Public Affairs Officer, The Sutton Trust

T:  020 7802 1671