Closing the gap

December 24, 2015

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s call for a major new focus on closing the attainment gap is welcome. Not only is there a strong social imperative to narrow the attainment and access gaps at every stage of a young person’s life, but there is also an economic incentive.

Access to our best universities and top professions is still too dependent on background. We need to improve access with better subject choices in schools and more focused outreach by universities. The best employers are diversifying their workforce with higher apprenticeships and fair internships. We need more organisations to meet that challenge.

Although some schools are making excellent progress in narrowing the gap between their richest and poorest pupils, it is clear that some are not and, nationally, the attainment gap remains large and persistent. If we are to achieve the commission’s aim of bringing poor children across the country up to the current performance of their peers in inner London, it is vital that schools use rigorous research to inform decisions about spending pupil premium funding.

We must focus on providing quality education in the early years, so that disadvantaged children gain the developmental skills they need. We need to make sure that every child has access to high-quality teaching by recruiting more good teachers and by boosting the quality of the 450,000 teachers already employed. This will be especially beneficial for poorer pupils as our research has shown that the difference between a good teacher and a bad teacher for this group is a whole year’s learning.

Sir Peter Lampl Chairman
Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation

Sir Kevan Collins
Chief executive Education Endowment Foundation

Send to

Letters should be sent to:

Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday. View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Reader in Politics and Policy

St Marys University, Twickenham



Professor of Anthropology

Maynooth University

Preceptor in Statistics

Harvard University

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Electrochemistry

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework