Inequality and social mobility
CEP research has documented Britain's high level of educational inequality and lack of social mobility, which continues to worsen. We find that socio-economic inequalities in educational attainment are very big even at an early age.
Contrary to the findings of US research on how early years' policies can reduce inequalities, we found that roll-out of fully subsidised part-time nursery places in England in the 2000s had effects that were small and short-lived.
Inequalities are then reinforced from primary school onwards. Our work shows that among the reasons for low social mobility is poor access to high-quality schools by economically-disadvantaged groups. The increase in house prices near high-quality schools shows that parents value schools by student prior achievement and school valued-added. But even though choice is available, poorer parents cannot make use of it because they cannot afford the catchment areas where school quality has inflated house prices.
Unfortunately, where criteria such as catchment areas are replaced by other school admissions policies, such as regular religious attendance for entry to faith schools, children from poorer families still find it more difficult to gain entry. Selectivity in education has also contributed to the decline in social mobility. We find that the apparent educational advantage of schools that have more autonomy over their admissions is purely attributable to the composition of such schools. Other work demonstrates that those who attend private schools earn more and that this dividend has increased over time. On the other hand, reforms that make the education system less selective may improve access to opportunity: CEP research found this to be the case for reforms to grammar schools in Northern Ireland.
Valuing school quality using boundary discontinuities
Research by Steve Gibbons, Stephen Machin and Olmo Silva show that both school value-added and student prior achievement - linked to the background of children in schools - affect households' demand for education. Read more...
Faith primary schools: better schools or better pupils?
Average levels of pupil achievement in religiously affiliated primary schools seem to be higher than in the secular sector. Research by Steve Gibbons and Olmo Silva examines whether faith schools really are better or if their pupils are just different. Read more...
Inequality and social mobility publications
Jo Blanden, Emilia Del Bono, Sandra McNally and Birgitta Rabe
1 May 2016
Stephen Machin, Sandra McNally and Gill Wyness
3 June 2013
Steve Gibbons, Stephen Machin and Olmo Silva
1 May 2013
Steve Gibbons and Olmo Silva
1 July 2011
Nina Guyon, Eric Maurin and Sandra McNally
5 January 2011
Francis Green, Stephen Machin, Richard Murphy and Yu Zhu