Improving Life Chances

It’s wrong that where people are born, their background or circumstances limit their life chances. We want a society where social mobility is the reality.

Background

In the UK, there is a stronger link between parental background and life chances than in many comparator nations, and this link appears to have strengthened in recent decades. Around four in ten children born to low income parents become low income adults.
Some groups face particularly stark restrictions on their life chances:

  • Britain’s 314,000 young adult carers are three times as likely to be not in education, employment or training than other young people;
  • Care leavers are more likely to go to prison than university;
  • 42% of prisoners were excluded from school.

This inequality of opportunity is not only unfair, preventing many from reaching their potential, it also holds back national prosperity, as talent goes untapped.

Our Policy Asks

We want:

  • People from poorer backgrounds to have access to high quality education, family and community learning
  • To improve the life chances of young people who have been in care
  • To enable offenders to develop the skills they need to make a positive transition to life in the community
  • Young adult carers to have fair access to learning and work
  • To enable people trapped in low-paid jobs to close the skills gap and progress in work

Click on a policy ask to find out more detail about why we think it and what we've done. You can also find out more about our work here.

People from poorer backgrounds to have access to high quality education, family and community learning

Just 37% of pupils from poorer backgrounds achieve A*-C grades in English and maths at GCSE, compared to 63% of other pupils. Our research shows that family learning can make a big difference – it can increase children’s attainment by as much as 15 percentage points.

The film on the left is about Robin Hood Primary School and the transformative impact that family learning has on the aspirations of parents and children. 

Community learning is a powerful way of enabling people to take their first steps back into education. It’s a valuable progression pathway to higher level skills and jobs. It contributes to improved confidence, self esteem and community engagement.

We have also made this short film which highlights how the Durham-based Cree Project has a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing through community learning

To improve the life chances of young people who have been in care

Children in care today are almost guaranteed to live in poverty. Eighty-four percent leave school without five good GCSEs, seventy percent of prostitutes were once in care, and care leavers are four times more likely to commit suicide than anyone else. But with tailored and high quality support, care leavers can and do achieve highly.

Read Richele Bridge’s blog about her inspirational journey from care leaver to trainee solicitor at a top city law firm.

Watch the short film on the right to hear Davut, Roxanne and Heidi talk about their experiences of growing up in care and how targeted learning and support can enable them to achieve.
Inspire Me

Find out more about the "Inspire Me" app developed by and for care leavers.

Find out more about our work to support young people who have been in care.

To enable offenders to develop the skills they need to make a positive transition to life in the community

Employment reduces the likelihood of individuals reoffending after release from prison. Building skills, experience and confidence is crucial.  Watch this film to hear about the award winning ‘Bad Boys’ Bakery’ at HMP Brixton.

Young adult carers to have fair access to learning and work

Young people, aged 16-24, provide £5.5 billion of unpaid care per year. Yet they are three times as likely to be NEET as other young people, achieve on average 9 lower GCSE grades and 45% report a mental health problem. We want all young adult carers to be able to learn, gain skills, develop ambitions and pursue a career.

Watch this short film to hear Emily Hicks talking about the impact of caring on her life, as she was growing up.

To enable people trapped in low-paid jobs to close the skills gap and progress in work

Five million adults in the UK are in low paid work – this is significantly higher than the OECD average. Seventy five percent of people in low paid work ten years ago are still trapped in low pay today. Some groups are less likely to progress than others, this includes lone parents and people with disabilities. We want low paid workers to have access to a locally commissioned Career Advancement Service and support to access Advanced Learner Loans to boost skills.

Taking a career review 1 in 3 started looking for a new job

Our work

Through research, development projects, events, policy and campaigning activity we are engaging a range of stakeholders to secure a more integrated and evidence-based approach to Improving Life Chances. Through our WE Care project we have developed resources, facilitated local networks and ran staff training sessions which are giving young adult carers better access to learning and work. In Wales we have developed a self assessment tool that is enabling learning providers to review their provision for care leavers and learn from best practice across the sector. We are developing, piloting and evaluating a PSD curriculum for offenders in custody. This has been trialled in partnership with three women’s prisons and we are now rolling it out to the male estate and YOIs. We are working in partnership with Trust for London and Walcot Foundation to provide support to their Step-Up programme, which aims to help low-paid workers increase their earnings and progress into better jobs.

Nicola Aylward

Want to know more?

To find out more about any of the work mentioned on this page, or to join one of our networks, please contact:

You can also speak to:

Nicola Aylward, Head of Learning for Young People

Email: nicola.aylward@learningandwork.org.uk

Twitter: @nicolajaylward