Westminster Education Forum

Latest developments in improving educational attainment and social mobility: the role of schools, opportunities post-16 and implementing the Opportunity Areas programme

Morning, Thursday, 14th February 2019

Central London


This timely seminar will examine the priorities for raising educational attainment and improving social mobility in England.

Delegates will discuss the impact of the Opportunity Areas programme on improving social mobility in the 12 areas considered to be social mobility ‘cold spots’ in England. They will consider the continued implementation of Opportunity Area plans - looking at what has worked so far, areas for improvement and how to spread the benefits of the programme to areas which are not included in current plans.

The seminar follows the publication of the Department for Education’s Social Mobility Action Plan. Delegates will examine the Plan’s key recommendations including measures to raise attainment and standards in schools through supporting teachers early in their careers and encouraging them to teach in challenging areas, as well as raising the aspirations of pupils within education.

Following the appointment of a new chair for the Social Mobility Commission - the seminar will provide an opportunity to discuss the latest findings from the Commission’s annual State of the Nation report, which last year recommended that Regional Schools Commissioners should be given responsibility for managing the supply of teachers and ensuring coherence between skills development and local industrial strategies.

Attendees will consider the role of schools in raising aspiration and improving attainment and look at how to tackle disadvantages in the early years, following the announcement of Government measures to close the ‘word gap’, and to discuss measures to improve teaching quality and raise school standards in areas of disadvantage.

Further sessions will look at how to improve opportunities post-16 both through higher education and through further education. This includes the likely impact of T-Levels as preparations are made for their initial introduction in three areas in 2020, the newly introduced fund to support the FE sector, and the continued progress in widening access for all learners into employment and HE.

Guest of Honour

Hannah Streatfeild

Deputy Director, Opportunity Areas, Department for Education

Guest of Honour

Hannah Streatfeild

Deputy Director, Opportunity Areas, Department for Education


Senior speaker confirmed from the Social Mobility Commission

Jenny Ann

National Collaborative Outreach Programme Manager, Office for Students

Kim Caplin

Principal, Westminster Kingsway College

Professor Kathryn Mitchell

Chair, Derby Opportunity Area Partnership Board and Vice Chancellor, University of Derby

Professor Liz Barnes

Co-Chair, Stoke-on-Trent Opportunity Area Partnership Board and Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Staffordshire University

Melanie Richards

Vice Chair UK, KPMG

David Woolley

Director of Student and Community Engagement, Nottingham Trent University

Mark Vickers

Chief Executive, Olive Academies

Gillian Peck

Headteacher, Putnoe Primary School, Bedfordshire

Damian Corneal

Managing Director, Accenture