On 23rd April Lord Lennie asked Her Majesty’s Government “what progress they have made on the appointment of the new Chair and members of the Social Mobility Commission.” The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, greater social mobility was one of the drivers of the original academies programme set up by the last Labour Government, which was why some of us supported it so strongly. Does the Minister believe that that still holds true for academies now and that widening educational opportunities for the disadvantaged is the key factor in promoting social mobility?
Lord Agnew of Oulton: The right reverend Prelate is correct, and we ought to record our great debt of gratitude to him personally as one of the very first academy sponsors in Norfolk. I have seen the work that he has done. The short answer is yes. We have taken 1,950 previously largely failing schools into sponsored academy status. At the time they came in, only 10% of them were rated good or better. Today, 70% of those are good or better, which accounts for about 450,000 children. So I see the academy programme as a vital plank in social mobility.