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Report on public attitudes towards social mobility and education

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​The Social Mobility Commission has published its annual report on public attitudes to social mobility. It presents the survey results from 5,000 people across the nation on their perceptions of their own prospects, standards of living, education and other factors.

The report finds:

  • Three quarters (76%) of people feel there are large differences in opportunity across the country.
    • This is increasing year on year from 71% in 2017 and 73% in 2018.
  • Stark regional differences exist.
    • Only a third (31%) of respondents from the North East and 37% from Wales feel there are good opportunities for progress in their region.
    • This is compared to 47% in the South West and 78% in London.
  • While respondents feel educational opportunities are improving, this may not be translating into job security.
    • 63% of people feel they were better off than their parents in terms of the education they had received.
    • But only 45% feel they had a better standard of living and 31% feel they had better job security.
  • Young people hold pessimistic views on social mobility.
    • Only 30% of 18-24-year-olds think that everyone in Britain has a fair chance in life.
  • 77% of people feel there is a large gap between social classes in Britain today. This is unchanged from previous years.


In relation to education:

  • Twice as many people who identify as middle class (50%) feel their background gives them an advantage in their education compared to people who identify as working class (25%).
  • Respondents feel that those from disadvantaged backgrounds have less educational opportunity than their peers.
    • 77% of respondents feel disadvantaged people have less opportunity to go to a top university.
    • 60% feel that disadvantaged people have less opportunity to leave school with good qualifications.
  • Overall, people think apprenticeships are the best opportunity for progression.
    • 32% feel that taking an apprenticeship offer young people the best chance to progress, followed by higher education (26%) and going into further education (14%).
  • However, 18-24-year olds think higher education offers the best opportunities for progression (35%) compared to apprenticeships (18%) or going into further education (13%).


You can read the full report here

See our press release.

First published 27 January 2020