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Social Mobility

Education written question – answered on 2nd November 2011.

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Photo of Eric Ollerenshaw Eric Ollerenshaw Conservative, Lancaster and Fleetwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what step his Department is taking to improve social mobility; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

This Government have set out an education reform programme in order to drive up attainment for children, regardless of their background, and to keep pace with the highest-performing systems in the world. We have undertaken specific measures to improve social mobility as set out in the Government's “Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers: A Strategy for Social Mobility”. These measures aim to ensure life chances are more equal at critical points such as the early years of development; school readiness at age five; GCSE attainment and the choice of options at 16.

Evidence shows that investment in the early years of a child's life makes a difference to their future attainment. We have extended the free entitlement to early education to 15 hours per week for all three and four-year-olds, and we have committed to extend free early education to all disadvantaged two-year-olds by 2013. Funding for places for disadvantaged two-year-olds will rise from £64 million in the current financial year to £380 million by the end of the spending review period and will mean that around 140,000 two-year-olds will in the future benefit from free places.

We have introduced the pupil premium which will provide additional resources to help raise the attainment of pupils from low income families. Total funding for the pupil premium is £625 million in 2011-12, £1.25 billion in 2012-13 and will rise to £2.5 billion a year by 2014-15.

The pupil premium sits alongside a range of reforms that will help to ensure that more pupils achieve higher standards. These include allowing schools greater freedoms and flexibility to use their budgets as they think best, introducing a more rigorous emphasis on phonics in the early years of primary education and reviewing the national curriculum and assessment arrangements. We have also introduced a new £50 million pupil premium summer school programme which will provide two weeks of teaching and activities to help the most disadvantaged pupils make the transition from primary to secondary school.

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