top of page


This report summarises the literature surrounding social mobility, with a particular focus on the policy context and landscape of key stakeholders in the education sector (from the early years to higher education) working to improve social mobility in England.  

Social mobility broadly refers to the extent to which a family’s socio-economic and cultural background affects a person’s future opportunities and prospects. It is a complex and multi-faceted concept rooted in historical and social inequalities and results in development and achievement gaps between children from disadvantaged backgrounds compared and their better-off peers. In England, by the time they reach secondary school, pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are nearly two years behind their peers in their learning. 


In this report, we map out the main causes of social inequality and define social mobility. We then examine the social mobility situation in England and identify some solutions from the education sector to overcoming the barriers to upward social mobility. The report provides an overview of the main actors working to improve social mobility in the country and offers case studies of promising practices across the different education phases (from the early years to further and higher education). 


In compiling this report, we conducted a rapid and targeted review of publicly available literature. This report was written to guide The Leathersellers’ Company and Charitable Fund in their strategic decision-making. We hope it provides a useful resource for wider learning and discussions in the sector. A shorter, summary version is also available. 





This report is based on research funded by The Leathersellers’ Company and Charitable Fund. The findings and conclusions contained within are those of Better Purpose and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of The Leathersellers’ Company and Charitable Fund.  

If you'd like to discuss any aspect of this work, please email

bottom of page