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Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential

A plan for improving social mobility through education

We have a national mission to level up opportunity across this country and build a fairer society, one that will guarantee a better future for the next generation. Talent and hard work alone should determine how far people can go in life, whoever you are, wherever you are from.

We have made big strides forward already. Employment has grown. We have made record investments in transport and infrastructure. And in education, our ambitious reforms are transforming opportunities for young people. We have unleashed innovation and choice in our schools, raised standards through a rigorous new curriculum and a world class exam system, and introduced a new, fairer National Funding Formula.

There are now 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools since 2010;1 more young people each year going to our world class universities than ever before; and we have the highest proportion of 16- to 17-year-olds participating in education since records began. We should be proud of what this government has delivered so far.

However, we must now go further, building on these strong foundations. Because we still face a defining challenge: while talent is spread evenly across this country, opportunity is not. Where you live will affect where you get to in life – while in some areas opportunity can become self-perpetuating, in other communities, disadvantage can become entrenched. And, across the country, less-advantaged children fall behind their more affluent peers in the early years and the gaps widen throughout school and beyond. Opportunity breeds opportunity and, while early advantage accumulates, so too does early disadvantage.

The good news though is that we know this can change – we can reverse these negative spirals and generate a virtuous cycle to unlock talent and fulfil potential.
Government has a key role in achieving this, providing the additional support that can help to lift up everyone, irrespective of who they are or where they live. Where our reforms are already transforming standards – in particular in schools – the key task now is to spread their impact to the areas of the country that need it most. And we must apply this same drive to raise standards to other equally important parts of education that have not yet had the same focus – including the historically neglected area of technical education.

Throughout, we must put greater emphasis on supporting and developing the key agents of improvement across our system: our teachers, leaders and other education and care professionals.