Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, held a Westminster Hall debate yesterday (12 February) on Social Mobility.
Sir David has worked as both a teacher and a lecturer outside of politics and has therefore always taken a keen interest in educational issues and social mobility. Earlier in the day, Sir David briefly participated in a different Westminster Hall debate on the educational attainment of white working-class boys, to express his concerns that unless action is taken then there will be consequences for local communities and a loss of talent in the workforce.
During his own debate, Sir David spoke of how he himself is a product of social mobility with family ties to the East End of London, but through education and family support he became the first in his family to attend University.
Among other issues, Sir David highlighted the role further education providers can play in improving social mobility and how important apprenticeships are. He spoke of his recent visit to the Bexley campus of London South East Colleges, where he met several inspirational apprentices who also believed a more innovative and proactive approach is needed to raise awareness of the schemes available.
He concluded the debate by commenting: “There is a lot to be done. I know the Government are committed to creating a country where everyone has the same chances to go as far as their talents allow. I am a strong supporter of the Prime Minister’s agenda of opportunities for all across our country. We must now ensure that people are encouraged from a young age to engage with education and training and understand the long-term benefits. Without action—the Government must be involved, as must all the others I have mentioned—social and economic divisions in the UK could widen, meaning our country and our workforce will not be geared up to ensure that global Britain is the success that our PM wants and we all strongly believe we can achieve. This is an important issue and, at this time in our history, social mobility should be top of our agenda.”