Bishop of Norwich: widening educational opportunities is key to improving social mobility

Norwich1710On 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?

Continue reading “Bishop of Norwich: widening educational opportunities is key to improving social mobility”

Bishop of Salisbury calls for Social Mobility Commission to focus on common good

On 4th December 2017 the House of Lords heard a Government statement repeated on the Social Mobility Commission chaired by Alan Milburn, whose board had announced their resignations that day. The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, asked a follow up question:

Bishop of Durham stresses need for continued focus on child poverty

Bp Durham June 2015 bOn 20th December 2016,  Baroness Corston moved “that the House take note of the Report from the Social Mobility Committee (Session 2015-16, HL Paper 120)”. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate, to welcome the report and highlight the continued importance of a focus on child poverty. 

The Lord Bishop of Durham My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Corston, for tabling this important debate and for her and her committee’s work, which has produced such a helpful and clear report. I also look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Corriegarth.

The findings of the report are of particular importance to those of us in the north-east. According to the Growing Up North project, 4% of young people leaving school in London go on to an apprenticeship whereas the figure is 11% in the north-east. The inequality in provision between academic and vocational routes compounds the inequalities between the north and south of England. Therefore, the current problems with the system are not only failing individual young people but, in some instances, they are failing particular communities. It is with the young people of my diocese and region in mind that I welcome the solutions offered in the report. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham stresses need for continued focus on child poverty”

Bishop of Portsmouth says social mobility needs to be about more than helping people to ‘just manage’.

“It is hard, and sometimes impossible, to seek a new or better job or to support your children in their education if your daily preoccupation has to be with getting by.” – Bishop of Portsmouth, 27/10/16 

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On 27th October 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Holmes of Richmond “To move that this House takes note of Her Majesty’s Government’s plans to promote social mobility.” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, took part in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, in these few minutes I should like to set the concern and aspirations for social mobility—already so well introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, and other noble Lords—in the context of the challenges faced by many people, some in my own diocese, who face the daily grind and trial of simply getting by for the day or, at best, the week. The Prime Minister has referred to the need to focus on “just managing” families, and I agree with her, but surely the task is to help make it possible for them to do better than just manage, enabling their energy to be taken up not just in dealing with the everyday challenges but in improving life chances for themselves and their families, including social mobility. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth says social mobility needs to be about more than helping people to ‘just manage’.”

Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendments to rename Social Mobility Commission with ‘Life Chances’


On 25th January the House of Lords considered the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler,spoke to amendments he had co-sponsored with Baroness Lister of Burtersett, to replace Social Mobility definitions with those of ‘Life Chances’. The amendments were not put to a division, but withdrawn after the debate. The Bishop’s speech and those of others are below.

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The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I support this amendment. Yesterday, I spent a delightful evening with a small number of academics after preaching at Evensong in an Oxford college—Worcester College. It was a very pleasant evening. However, as I sat there, I kept coming back in my mind to today’s debate because I was reminded of the extraordinary privilege of being in an Oxford college and the elite nature of it. This is not to criticise it or put it down; I had the privilege of studying in a private hall in Oxford when I trained for my ordination. However, I found myself thinking about the vast number of children and young people I meet in schools and colleges around the north-east, and have met in other parts of the country over the years, for whom such privilege is not their aim. Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendments to rename Social Mobility Commission with ‘Life Chances’”

Early Years Intervention – Speech by Bishop of St Albans

On 8th January 2015 Peers debated a motion in the name of Baroness Massey of Darwen, ‘that this House takes note of the case for early years intervention in breaking the cycle of deprivation and promoting social mobility’. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans:

Bishop of St AlbansI, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, for pressing this very important issue. It is, as has already been noted, an extremely complex one. We are talking about nothing less than a profound culture change in many local communities if we are to break the cycle of deprivation and increase social mobility. Continue reading “Early Years Intervention – Speech by Bishop of St Albans”

Bishop of Winchester on teacher training, education and social mobility

“I question whether the Government’s policies for improving the quality of teaching have been fully effective and will enable social mobility. I am particularly concerned about the School Direct programme. In fact, I suggest there is an urgent case for rethinking arrangements around initial teacher training before a crisis develops.” – Bishop of Winchester

The Bishop of Winchester gave a speech in a House of Lords debate on 13th March 2014, tabled by the Education Minister Lord Nash.

The debate title was: ‘that this House takes note of the role of primary and secondary education in improving social mobility.’

The Lord Bishop of Winchester:13.05 Bishop of Winchester

My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Nash, for the opportunity of this debate. I shall focus on the impact made by initial teacher training on social mobility. Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester on teacher training, education and social mobility”