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What should we do about social mobility?

In this episode, we are joined by Professor Lee Elliott Major OBE who discusses what we mean by social mobility, how we can improve it in the UK, and how we can better support disadvantaged learners in further education.

Lee is the UK’s first ever Professor of Social Mobility. He has written several books and regularly appears in national broadcast and print media. He is also an example of social mobility himself, having come from a working-class background in West London and dropped out of school at 15, before progressing through college and university to eventually become a professor.

Who is Professor Lee Elliott Major OBE?

Lee Elliot Major OBE, is the country’s first Professor of Social Mobility. Appointed by the University of Exeter to be a global leader in the field, his work is dedicated to improving the prospects of disadvantaged young people.

His Penguin book Social Mobility and Its Enemies, co-authored with Stephen Machin, has attracted attention across the world. In his TEDx talk in 2019, Lee describes an ‘escalating arms race of education’ in which the poorest children are increasingly ill-equipped to fight. His Bloomsbury book What Works?co-authored with Steve Higgins, offers best bets to teachers for improving outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. He also authored What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Social Mobility?.

Lee was formerly Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust and a trustee of the Education Endowment Foundation. He is an Honorary Professor at the UCL Institute of Education. He is an Associate Member of Nuffield College, University of Oxford, an Associate of LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance, and an Honorary Professor at the UCL Institute of Education.

Lee regularly appears in national media and gives public lectures. As a Professor of Practice he is focused on the impact of research, working closely with schools, universities, employers and policy makers. He argues that social mobility is about securing decent jobs in local communities not just catapulting a lucky few to the top.

He has a PhD in theoretical physics and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Sheffield for services to education.  He was an education journalist working for the Guardian and the Times Higher Education Supplement. He is the first in his family to attend university. His OBE was awarded for services to social mobility.


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