Westminster Education Forum

Conferences that are scheduled to take place before September will be conducted online.
The format will mirror physical conferences organised by the Forum with speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish.
The conferences will be chaired and there will be opportunities for delegate questions and comments.
We will be contacting all participants in advance of each conference with full information and guidance on how to take part.
There will be some exceptions where conferences will be postponed, for instance those that would largely involve key stakeholders in the NHS or emergency services.
All participants affected by this will be informed as soon as possible.
If you’d like to speak to us over the phone about any booking-related queries, please call one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7538736244

Next steps for improving social mobility in England - the Opportunity Areas programme, tackling regional inequality affecting young people, and the roles of education and business

Afternoon, Thursday, 23rd April 2020


***Taking Place Online***

This conference will examine the next steps for improving social mobility in England - focusing on the Opportunity Areas programme, tackling regional inequality affecting young people and the roles of education and business.

It will be an opportunity for stakeholders and key policymakers to discuss priorities for policy as the new government pursues its levelling up and regional investment agenda:

  • following Government commitments in the Budget to invest £1.5bn in further education and £2.5bn to establish a new National Skills Fund, and
  • with the added severe economic pressures that will result from the COVID 19 epidemic.

Delegates will also hear from Sasha Morgan, Director of the Social Mobility Secretariat, Social Mobility Commission - following the expected publication of the Commission’s latest State of the Nation report.

Key areas for discussion:

  • next steps for the Opportunity Areas programme - and its record so far in fulfilling its aims of developing the knowledge and skills of young people in the 12 identified areas of greatest need
  • key relationships between universities, schools and business
  • how schools themselves and the early years sector can best support improved outcomes for disadvantaged children
  • examples of best practice and how it can be built upon, as well as alternative approaches to improving social mobility
  • what can be learned from the Opportunity North East programme - following the recent publication of the programme’s delivery plan

The agenda:

  • The State of the Nation - analysing the current landscape of social mobility;
  • The Opportunity Areas Programme - its impact so far and next steps for creating sustainable improvements in outcomes for young people;
  • Review of the progress of Opportunity Areas in tackling social mobility;
  • Innovation in tackling inequalities among young people - the role of employers, widening access to university, and retaining young people within a particular region;
  • The role of education - best practice in the use of current provision, and developing community-led approaches and partnerships both in and outside of the classroom; and
  • What next for the Opportunity Areas Programme?

Policy officials attending

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stake holders.

Particularly this one. Places have been reserved for officials from: the Cities & Local Growth Unit; Department for Education; Government oF Equalities Office; HM Revenue & Customs; Home Office; Ministry of Defence; National Audit Office; Office of Government Property and the Ofsted.

This conference will be online***

  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish
  • opportunities for delegate questions and comments
  • a permanent record of the proceedings will be made available to all delegates afterwards, including a recording of the addresses, all slides that have been made available, and further materials

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Sasha Morgan

Director of the Social Mobility Secretariat, Social Mobility Commission


Justin Madders MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility

Professor David Hopkins

Professor of Educational Leadership, University of Bolton and Professor Emeritus, Institute of Education, University College London and University of Nottingham


Ellen McHugh

Assistant Head Student Leadership & Enterprise, St Albans Girls’ School

Wayne Norrie

Chief Executive, Greenwood Academies Trust, Nottinghamshire

Anne-Marie Canning

Chief Executive Officer, The Brilliant Club and Independent Chair, Bradford Opportunity Area

Dr Tim Coulson

Independent Chair, Norwich Opportunity Area

Sarah Holmes-Carne

Principal, Kenton School

James Kempton

Independent Chair, Oldham Opportunity Area

Richard Hamer

Education Director, BAE Systems

Sarah Atkinson

Chief Executive, Social Mobility Foundation

Dr Andrew Ross

Head of Widening Access and Participation, University of Bath

Asfa Sohail

Principal, Lewisham Southwark College