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Improving social mobility a defining challenge for the nation – Justine Greening

The Education Secretary will addressing the inaugural Reform social mobility conference.

Tackling inequality will help make Brexit a success for Britain, the Education Secretary has said, as she revealed plans to ensure no community is left behind.

Justine Greening said improving social mobility was a “defining challenge for us as a nation” and called on communities and businesses to create the “widest coalition possible”, working with Government to enhance opportunities.

The announcement comes after the entire board of the Social Mobility Commission quit earlier this month in protest at the lack of progress towards a “fairer Britain”.

Addressing the inaugural Reform social mobility conference on Thursday, Ms Greening is expected to say: “If we’re going to make the most of ourselves as a country, and make Brexit a success, then we need to make sure every person and every place is fulfilling its potential.

“And if you care about this, if you want equality of opportunity – now is the moment and you need to get involved. I want everyone to get on board.”

Ms Greening said some people experience “a whole lifespan of missed opportunities” after starting school with poor language and literacy skills and are unable to compete for the most rewarding jobs when they leave education.

The Unlocking Talent: Fulfilling Potential plan will put “improving social mobility at the heart of all our education policy”, she said.

In her speech, the Education Secretary will say: “Crucially, the overarching ambition of this plan is to leave no community behind.

“We will relentlessly target effort and resources at parts of the country where they have the toughest challenges and fewest opportunities.”

The proposals seek to boost literacy in the classroom and at home, close the attainment gap, increase options for teenagers after their GCSEs and improve career aspirations.

Action will be directed towards areas most in need and more than £800 million of investment will be made available, the Government said.

Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to tackle the “burning injustices” holding poorer people back as she entered Number 10.

But she suffered a major setback when Alan Milburn, the former Labour minister heading the Social Mobility Commission, said he had “little hope” that Government was capable of making changes to deliver a more equal society.

He resigned along with his three fellow commissioners, including the Conservative former cabinet minister Baroness Shephard, earlier this month.

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(PA Graphics)

Ms Greening’s speech comes a day after Ofsted’s annual report, which revealed around 90% of primary schools and 79% of secondaries are rated good or outstanding.

But 135 schools, including around 80 primary and 50 secondary, were highlighted for failing to record a good inspection since 2005.

Amanda Spielman, the education watchdog’s chief inspector, called for greater support for the schools, many of which had unstable leadership and problems recruiting, as well as high proportions of deprived students.

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