The Social Mobility Commission has published its annual “state of the nation” report.

Here are the key findings and recommendations about schools:


  1. Geographical differences in attainment for children on free school meals have increased over the past decade, “despite government efforts to boost learning for disadvantaged children”.
  2. London has broken away from the rest of England: disadvantaged children in the capital do better than pupils in any other region at both primary and secondary school. This is despite London having the highest levels of childhood deprivation in the country.
  3. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds going to school in former manufacturing urban areas like Kettering and Doncaster have some of the poorest outcomes.
  4. Remote countryside and coastal areas also perform badly. More than a fifth of the bottom 20 per cent of local authority areas for school outcomes are in these areas.
  5. School quality is hugely variable. Disadvantaged children in Knowsley have “no chance of going to a secondary school rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’”, while in Hackney, all children on free school meals go to “strong schools”.
  6. The most deprived coastal rural areas have 1.5 times the proportion of unqualified secondary teachers of the least deprived inland rural areas.
  7. Areas with low attainment among secondary pupils on free school meals “tend to have higher teacher turnover”.
  8. Schools in densely populated urban areas “benefit from support from nearby ‘outstanding’ schools”, but schools in rural and coastal areas are “isolated”, and “unable to tap into partnership infrastructure for support”.


  1. Regional School Commissioners should be given responsibility for monitoring and managing the supply of teachers within their regions. This should include working with universities, schools and Teach First to “develop sub-regional strategies with the right incentives to attract, recruit and keep teachers”. These strategies should offer “region-wide opportunities for development and progression”.
  2. The government should launch a fund for schools in rural and coastal areas to “explore innovative approaches to partnerships with other schools in order to boost attainment”.
  3. Regional School Commissioners should work with the combined authorities to ensure “coherence between skill development and local industrial strategies”.