‘THIS report rightly blames the government’s austerity agenda, including cuts to support services and children’s centres, for limiting the educational potential of disadvantaged young people.’

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union was commenting on a report from an All-Party Parliamentary Group on social mobility, published today.

She said: ‘If the government is serious about social mobility, it needs to properly fund good quality early years education, rather than focus on providing childcare to enable parents to work.

‘Schools must be adequately funded and there should be structures that foster collaboration rather than competition between them.

‘We also need a high quality and fair inspection system which acknowledges the good work done by schools in challenging circumstances and offers constructive advice on ways to improve.

‘Schools in disadvantaged areas find it hard at present to hire teachers and head teachers because of the threat of a negative Ofsted grade.

‘Lastly, this government must put a stop to austerity. Children should not be going to school hungry and without adequate clothing, and teachers should be able to teach rather than solve the problems of structural poverty caused by recent governments.’