In 2016 the Sutton Trust joined the LSE Benefactors’ Board, recognising its generous transformational philanthropy of more than £1 million to the School. For almost two decades LSE has been a valued partner in the Sutton Trust’s mission to tackle low social mobility and lack of educational opportunity – described by Sir Peter Lampl, the Trust’s Founder and Chairman, as ‘arguably the biggest social challenge of our times’.
“The income gap between the richest and poorest in society continues to widen,” commented Sir Peter. “Children from privileged homes are over-represented in the best schools and best universities. The Sutton Trust works to change this.”
He continued: “To improve social mobility, it’s important that young people from low and moderate income backgrounds have a fair chance of attending the best universities – a degree from one of these institutions is one of the surest routes to a good job. Our partnership with LSE – one of the top universities and research institutions in the world – offers opportunities to experience life as an undergraduate, boosting young people’s aspirations and increasing their chance of getting into a good university.”
The ‘Pathways’ programmes support cohorts of pupils from low and middle income homes, providing students with the information, advice and guidance needed to access degrees and succeed in their career. Participants are invited to regular, engaging and hands-on programmes of activities including lectures, seminars, conferences, work experience, and e-mentoring.
“Pathways gives students the essential knowledge, skills and confidence they need to go on to higher education and the world of work,” said Sir Peter. “Through real-life experience in their chosen field, work exposure, and mentoring and networking opportunities, they gain a better understanding of whether they are suited to a profession, as well as knowing what qualifications they’ll need to access it.”
The Sutton Trust has also worked with LSE academics on a number of research initiatives around social mobility. The Trust has recently partnered with the Centre for Vocational Education Research on a project that analyses the landscape of apprenticeships for young people in England. This followed a landmark report in 2005 commissioned by the Trust and delivered by LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance that found that social mobility in the UK had declined and, along with the US, was lower than in any other developed country.
“It’s been called the most influential study on public policy in the last 20 years. The reverberations from its striking findings can still be seen widely today,” said Sir Peter.
Kirsty Wadsley, Head of Widening Participation at LSE, said: “It is of continued importance that we reach academically gifted pupils from a young age who may, as a result of their educational background and experience, think certain universities, courses, and careers are not for them. We are thrilled to maintain our partnership with the Sutton Trust in addressing such challenges, and we look forward to welcoming our first cohort of Year 12 students to LSE for Pathways to Banking and Finance this year.”