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Social class remains the strongest predictor of educational achievement in the UK. Amongst the many social, environmental and economic reasons for the enduring relationship between social background and life chances, research demonstrates that a lack of social capital constrains disadvantaged young people in their decisions about school-to-work progression routes. This is because social capital – social networks and relationships – confers a range of advantages on people and groups who have it.

How is this Different to other Interventions?

The Furthering Opportunity project aims to tackle the social class gap in education by approaching the social class gap in a different way:

  • A structural approach: the Furthering Opportunity project will address structural reasons for inequality, including a lack of quality information, advice, guidance and advocacy for disadvantaged young people.

  • A collective approach: the intervention will be based in Further Education as the sector where a majority of disadvantaged young people are located and will work with groups of young people rather than individuals thus ensuring that all young people rather than a select few high achievers are given the opportunity to benefit.

  • Realising young people’s potential whatever their school-to-work route: many existing initiatives are concerned with academic routes; focusing on select high-achieving young people from less advantaged backgrounds, and encouraging their progression to higher education. Unlike these initiatives, Furthering Opportunity will focus on vocational routes and provides the expertise of RSA Fellows from a broad range of subjects and backgrounds.

  • Encouraging social mixing: few existing programmes utilise the mutual learning and benefits resulting from intergenerational mixing. In contrast, the Furthering Opportunity work is designed to capitalise on the rich and reciprocal benefits that intergenerational mentoring projects can deliver. This reciprocity and learning opportunity will be a further attraction to Fellows who are interested in participating.

This work was kindly sponsored by Pearson.