IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


VIRTUAL EVENT: Apocalypse or new dawn? Social mobility and education in the post-Covid era

30 September 2020, 5:30 pm–6:45 pm

Man walking and wearing a mask. Image: cottonbro via Pexels

Join us for a lecture with Lee Elliot Major, Britain’s first Professor of Social Mobility, who argues that we need to rethink education as we face a ‘dark age of declining opportunity’.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Kate Thomas

Watch the lecture 

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/G3UZOpTWR6I

The COVID-19 crisis has shone an intense light on the role schools play in improving social mobility. 

On the one hand, it has exposed the deep inequalities outside schools that shape social mobility patterns, on the other it has also revealed escalating expectations placed on teachers to solve society’s ills.

So what is the role of schools in improving social mobility in a post-pandemic world? How can we enable education to be the great social leveller, when it has been commandeered by the middle-classes to cement their status in society? 

Please join us to put your comments and questions to our speaker by using the YouTube live chat.


Image: cottonbro via Pexels

About the Speaker

Lee Elliot Major

Professor of Social Mobility at The University of Exeter

Lee is Britain’s first Professor of Social Mobility and Honorary Professor at the UCL Institute of Education.

His Penguin book 'Social Mobility and Its Enemies' has attracted attention across the world. He recently won a major UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) grant to look at the social mobility impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. His next book on social mobility is due to be published this autumn.

His Bloomsbury book 'What Works?' provides evidence-informed tips for teachers to improve learning and follows on from his work helping to produce the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) teaching and learning toolkit. Lee was one of the most vocal champions for the National Tutoring Programme recently announced by the Government.

He regularly appears in the media commenting on social mobility issues. In July 2020 he was one of 20 people named in ‘People Management's Diversity and Inclusion Power List’.

He was formerly Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust , a trustee of the Education Endowment Foundation, and was previously a journalist for the Guardian and THES. He has a PhD in theoretical physics and was the first in his family to attend university. Lee was awarded an OBE in 2019.

He is an Associate Member of Nuffield College, University of Oxford, an Associate of LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance, a Visiting Fellow at the LSE’s International Inequalities Institute. He serves as a Governor at William Ellis School, and a trustee of the Ted Wragg Trust.

His current research interests include:

  • the Covid impacts on social mobility
  • ‘left behind’ pupils
  • the social class backgrounds of creative elites
  • evidence-informed teacher-research partnerships to improve teaching for poorer pupils.