The Social Mobility Commission published findings that show the gross disparities in pay between professionals from working class backgrounds and their more advantaged colleagues.
The Commission’s research found that people from working class backgrounds who get a professional job are paid an average of £6,800 (17%) less each year than colleagues from more affluent backgrounds.
The report, conducted by London School of Economics and University College London, said that access to Britain’s professions remains “dominated by those from more privileged backgrounds. But even when people from working class backgrounds manage to break into a professional career, they face [an] earnings penalty compared to colleagues who come from better-off backgrounds.”
Even when they have the same education attainment, role and experience as their more privileged colleagues, the report finds that those from poorer backgrounds are still paid an average of £2,242 (7%) less. Women and ethnic minorities face a ‘double’ disadvantage in earnings.
The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said:
This unprecedented research provides powerful new evidence that Britain remains a deeply elitist society.
Too many people from working class backgrounds not only face barriers getting into the professions, but also barriers to getting on. It cannot be right that they face an annual class pay gap of £6,800.
Many professional firms are doing excellent work to open their doors to people from all backgrounds, but this research suggests much more needs to be done to ensure that Britain is a place where everyone has an equal chance of success regardless of where they have come from.
How much you are paid should be determined by your ability not your background. Employers need to take action to end the shocking class earnings penalty. The commission will be sending major employers details of this research and asking them how they intend to close the class pay gap.
But issues stem from earlier on in working class people’s lives. Last year, the Sutton Trust released findings which showed that, nationally, white British boys on Free School Meals achieve the lowest grades of any main ethnic group and have now been either the lowest or second lowest performing ethnic group every year for a decade. White British FSM girls are also the lowest performing main female ethnic group.
The problem of white working class underachievement is particularly important to the North East, as the region is both more white and more working class than the others. The recently released revised key stage 4 results demonstrate this.
Of all the English regions, the North East had the whitest year 11 cohort last year – 93.81% compared to 79.53% nationally.
On average, white pupils in the North East had the lowest Progress 8 and Attainment 8 scores in the region:
||Average Attainment 8 score per pupil
||Average Progress 8 score per pupil
The North East has the joint lowest average Attainment 8 score for white pupils (along with the East Midlands) and the second lowest average Progress 8 score (after the North West).
The table below shows the performance of year 11s by the IDACI (Income deprivation affecting children index) score for the postcode in which they live. The North East had the highest proportion of year 11s living in the most deprived areas.
SCHOOLS NorthEast will be holding an event on how schools can tackle underachievement and raise attainment amongst white working class pupils. The conference will look at a range of the key issues, including: how we define ‘white working class’; how schools can identify students at risk of underachievement; and, measures schools can take to prevent this from happening. It will also include a focus on the specific challenges faced by coastal schools. For more information, please visit our website. To book your place at the event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.