Education and social mobility

Topic Selected: Education

General Article icon Type: General Article

Current debate about the government's proposed education reforms may be based on a false premise. Recent research suggests that education policy by itself contributes little to the rate at which people move between social classes, according to a new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Comprehensive schooling is neither less nor more effective at promoting social mobility than a selective system, says the research carried out by Dr Cristina Iannelli and Professor Lindsay Paterson of the University of Edinburgh.

If changes to the structure of schooling could have an effect, then it should show in Scotland, where all selective schools in the public sector were abolished by the mid-1970s, they point out. Instead, they found that educational reforms had no impact either way.

While education may have provided the oil that lubricated upward mobility, the biggest effect has come through changes in the jobs people do, and how employ

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