The Sutton Trust

The Sutton Trust champions social mobility through research, policy influence and programmes. Our agenda-setting research identifies the root causes of low social mobility and promotes effective solutions.

Since 1997 and under the leadership of founder Sir Peter Lampl, the Sutton Trust has worked to address low levels of social mobility in the UK. The Trust fights for social mobility from birth to the workplace so that every young person – no matter who their parents are, what school they go to, or where they live – has the chance to succeed in life.

Social mobility is about ensuring the opportunities open to a young person are not dependent on the economic and social position they were born into. High levels of social mobility mean that people from all backgrounds are able to realise their aspirations and access opportunities through their talents. It’s crucial for creating a fairer society, fostering social cohesion and boosting economic growth.

Yet social mobility in Britain is low. For a child born in the UK today, their chances in life are strongly linked to their parents’ background. Those from high-earning families are more likely to end up going to the best universities and getting top jobs later in life. Put simply, if an opportunity exists, we believe it should be equally open to those from lower income homes as their wealthier peers.

Since 1997, over 50,000 young people have accessed our life-changing programmes and we’ve published over 250 reports on topics including the early years, schools, apprenticeships, access to university and progression to the workplace, many of which have gone on to influence national policy.


Latest reports

CECIL: final report

This report from UK think tank The Sutton Trust discusses the importance of coaching early conversations, interaction and language. The Coaching Early Conversation Interaction and Language (CECIL) Project, which started in September 2020, has focused on exploring coaching-led approaches to support the effective implementation of early language interventions, especially in Private, Voluntary & Independent (PVI)...

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Fair opportunity for all

This report from UK think tank The Sutton Trust is a roadmap for the next government to tackle educational inequality and improve social mobility. In Britain, the opportunity to succeed is still heavily shaped by your socio-economic background – the social and economic circumstances that you grew up in. As the 2024 General Election fast...

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Social mobility and opportunity

This report from UK think tank the Sutton Trust looks at public attitudes to social mobility and opportunity in the UK today. With a General Election just weeks away – what are the British public’s views on equality of opportunity and social mobility? Do today’s voters want to see greater action to level the playing...

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School Funding and Pupil Premium 2024

This report from UK think tank The Sutton Trust takes a closer look at schools funding and how school leaders are spending their budgets this year. Our annual survey of 1,282 teachers, conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) as part of their Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey, takes a closer look at schools...

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Reforming student maintenance

This report from UK think tank The Sutton Trust illustrates why student maintenance is an issue which needs to move up the political agenda ahead of the election. This General Election policy briefing, the third in our new series of briefings ahead of the next election, looks at the student maintenance system, which determines the...

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Closing the attainment gap

This report from UK think tank the Sutton Trust looks at the gap in educational outcomes between students from more and less affluent backgrounds. This General Election policy briefing, the second in our new series of briefings ahead of the upcoming election, looks at the attainment gap – the gap in educational outcomes between students...

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Inequality in early years education

This report from UK think tank the Sutton Trust examines the key issues in early education and childcare alongside the policies of the main political parties. This General Election policy briefing, the first in our new series of policy briefings ahead of the upcoming election, examines extensive evidence of the key issues in early education...

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Selective Comprehensives 2024

In this report from UK think tank the Sutton Trust, the NFER updates its work on Selective Comprehensives 2017 and discusses what it means for understanding an education sector in transition. The Sutton Trust has published a series of research pieces looking at school admissions, repeatedly uncovering evidence that England’s top comprehensive schools are, in...

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Student maintenance analysis 2023

This report from UK think tank The Sutton Trust looks at students' essential spending. Earlier this year, our research revealed the extent to which students across the country were struggling to manage financially during the cost of living crisis, following a period of record high levels of inflation. Building on these previous findings, this new...

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Post-18 opportunities and aspirations

This report from UK think tanks the Sutton Trust and CEPEO explores the post-18 education and career plans of young people and the opportunities available to them. The second briefing from Wave 2 of the COVID Social Mobility and Opportunities (COSMO) study explores the post-18 education and career plans of young people and the opportunities...

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COSMO – Mental and physical health

This report from UK think tanks the Sutton Trust & CEPEO examines inequalities in mental health and access to support services. Even though many areas of life have largely returned to normal following the pandemic, the long-term trend of worsening mental health and wellbeing of young people is an ongoing issue. This research briefing examines...

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25 years of university access

This report by UK think tank the Sutton Trust looks at how access to higher education has changed over time. A major study of higher education trends over the past 25 years reveals persistent access gaps for disadvantaged students, particularly at the most selective universities. The research, using a unique dataset compiled by dataHE for...

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COSMO – The Class of 2023

This report from UK think tank the Sutton Trust looks at opportunities and university plans. The Class of 2023, who took A Level exams and other qualifications this summer, have reached a critical moment of transition: many are making decisions with long-lasting consequences for their future paths after compulsory education. With the release of A...

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Stories from the class of 2023

This report from UK think tank the Sutton Trust looks at education experiences of high potential students from different backgrounds. Prior attainment is a major factor in both educational and career progression, but even young people who do show strong initial academic potential from less advantaged backgrounds often fall behind their better-off peers during their...

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World class

This report from UK think tank The Sutton Trust looks at what England can learn from global experience to make early years policy work for disadvantaged children. England’s early education and childcare system is at a turning point. Both major political parties have shown a significant interest in the early years, with the government recently...

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