In response to the publication of the Social Mobility Truths report by the think tank Civitas, Mike Buchanan, Executive Director of HMC, said:
“HMC members are committed to providing a world leading education for thousands of young people and to extending those opportunities as widely as possible so many others can benefit. This puts them at the heart of the social mobility debate.
“In this new report, Peter Saunders, professor emeritus of sociology at Sussex University, challenges what he describes as the ‘myths’ that have come to dominate current thinking in this area.
“In a study that will make for uncomfortable reading for those wedded to the orthodoxy that social mobility is stagnating, he argues that it is in fact the norm in modern Britain, not the exception.
“Most strikingly, Prof Saunders asserts that children’s ability and motivation ‘far outweigh’ their class backgrounds in predicting their social class destinations in adulthood, and that many institutions and organisations that seek to find and develop talent are helping not harming social mobility.
“His arguments must be carefully scrutinised, but they appear to be borne out by numerous individual examples in schools of all types and by the recent Royal Springboard Impact Report, which shows how a good education can be genuinely life-transforming for disadvantaged and vulnerable children.
“In one chapter, for example, Prof Saunders strongly argues that the deeply ingrained belief that top universities are biased in favour of applicants from private schools is a myth.
“This will resonate with many HMC members, and it is healthy that such widely held beliefs are challenged as they can potentially provide much of the justification for current policy surrounding university admissions and the access arrangements between universities and the Office of Students.”