Brighter futures start at home

Posted by Chloe Hardy / Wednesday 16 November 2016 / Inequality
Young girl looking straight ahead on white backdrop

The Prime Minister promised better social mobility would be a cornerstone of her Government. Today's State of the Nation report from the Social Mobility Commission highlights just how far we have to go.

It says only 1 in 8 children from low income backgrounds is likely to become a high earner as an adult. The Commission paints a worryingly bleak picture that Britain has a deep social mobility problem.

But all is not lost. The Commission is calling for an ambitious ten-year social reform plan from government.

Amongst its recommendations is better help for disadvantaged children in the crucial early years period. Children from low income families only have a 50/50 chance being ready for school by age five. This puts them at a disadvantage from which many don't catch up.


The Commission wants the Government to close this gap at age five by 2025. Our Fair by Five campaign has been making this case to politicians. We think, as the body that advises the Government on social mobility, its time for ministers to listen to its advice and get on board.

We know that childcare is an important way help close the gap. It is why the Government will be spending £6 billion a year on free places for children by 2020. But what is often missed is that children actually spend most of their time at home and with their wider family – not in playgroups or with childminders.

Parents, grandparents and carers will have a huge influence on their health, communication, emotional wellbeing and social skills. It is with them they will have the most opportunity to develop their curiosity, have fun and explore the world around them.


"The rungs on the social mobility ladder are growing further apart. It is becoming harder for this generation of struggling families to move up."

Alan Milburn, Chair of the Social Mobility Commission

Worryingly, children from low income families will spend 40 minutes a day less than their peers on the kind of play and interaction that stimulates children’s development. That’s the equivalent of nearly 29 school days before their fifth birthday.

The Social Mobility Commission has been bold. They are calling for a package of support for parents in the earliest years to support the home learning environment (HLE). This includes things like playing, singing nursery rhymes, painting and drawing. These all have a big impact of how well children do by age five and how well they do at school - even up to GCSE and A-Levels results.

Supporting parenting is a crucial part of our Fair by Five campaign. It is where we have been shouting the loudest and now the Commission is also highlighting its importance.

A ten year plan and greater support for parents is a big challenge for the Government. But it is one that Ministers have to get on board with if they are to fulfil Theresa May’s promise to do everything she can “to help anybody, whatever your background, to go as far as your talents will take you”. You can help make sure they do by joining our campaign and making sure all children have the best start in life.


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