Who inspires you?

We had the pivilige showing the Guardian round Hodge Hill on Friday, ahead of our week’s report on aspiration. I wanted them to see some of the work in places like International school where an inspirational head is re-inventing the idea of how a school sits as a hub in the centre of a community, offering a whole host of new services – like post-16 training, IT facilities for silver surfers, and family learning classes. The point is that to turn around aspiration, you have to harness both families and communities. And schools are central because in poorer places, schools are often the biggest public investments – and likely to remain so given our £35 billion of building schools for the future investment. But, arguably front line leaders need still more flexibility to mix funding and roll out new services.

We had a little workshop with some International school students on role-models and ambitions. They were incredible. Plenty wanted to be doctors, surgeons, lawyers. All wanted to go on to college and university. And almost always the big sources of inspiration were people who believed in them, picked them up when they were down and taught them the value of trying and trying again until they got it right. Inspiring stuff.



Investing in aspiration is one of the most important priorities for the next phase of new Labour. This week, I’ll publish a major report looking at how aspiration differs across deprived communities. The truth is our low income neighbourhoods have very different horizons. But some low income, largely white working class places have 10pc fewer kids wanting to stay on at school than the national average. Look out for the report later this week.

Getting on, getting ahead

Tomorrow I’m publishing a major report about ‘social mobility’ over the last 30 years. What does that mean? Its simple. Is it easier to get ahead and get on today, or harder? There’s some good news – and some powerful lessons from the past. It seems that despite the huge economic, social and political change between 1970 and 2000, social mobility didn’t get better. It stayed the same.

Now, finally it could be getting better. Early evidence from Bristol University shows that parental income could be beginning to have less of an influence on the exam results of kids born in 1990/91. That hasn’t happened by accident. Investment and reform in early years services, schools, vocational education and work-based training are all vital for the future. But our task is two fold. Investing in a more mobile society. And second capturing a big chunk of the high value jobs that come with the doubling of world wealth over the next 25 years, so there’s more high paying jobs to go round. Tory confusion and cuts won’t deliver that.