In our blog post on 13th July 2023, Is education the answer to social mobility? The contribution of the National Extension College, Ros Morpeth, Board of Trustees Member and former CEO of NEC, penned a powerful letter in response to an article by Polly Toynbee (At last, Labour is admitting the defining role of class in the UK; the Guardian, 7 July 2023).

The letter, published in the Guardian, references Ros’s own experiences highlighting the challenges involved in the quest for social mobility. The letter serves as a testament to NEC’s dedication to providing educational opportunities that revitalise social mobility and break down class barriers. It reaffirms the importance of education as a tool for change and emphasises the ongoing commitment of NEC to widen access to education and open up new possibilities for people of all ages by offering access to essential qualifications like GCSEs and A levels.

In this second blog post we look at the key to reviving social mobility.

In a society where opportunities are often determined by one’s social background, the role of  education becomes paramount in breaking down barriers and revitalising social mobility. NEC, a pioneering institution with a rich history spanning 60 years, has been at  the forefront of providing educational opportunities for individuals seeking a second chance. The ability to move up the social ladder regardless of one’s background is a critical aspect of a fair and equal society. However, the sad reality is that social mobility has seen a concerning decline. Birth, rather than talent or ambition, has become an increasingly determining factor in one’s life prospects. This dire situation calls for a renewed focus on education as the catalyst for change.

Education has the potential to break down the barriers of class and provide equal opportunities for all. It equips individuals with the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence to pursue their aspirations, irrespective of their background. By empowering individuals through education, we can create a society where merit and talent determine success, not socio-economic circumstances.

The National Extension College is all about empowering individuals through education. NEC, established in the 1960s by Michael Young and Brian Jackson, recognised the need to bridge the  education gap for individuals whose lives had been disrupted by various circumstances. Through distance learning, NEC offered high-quality courses, opening doors to those who needed a second chance. Over the years, NEC’s impact has extended beyond its courses, paving the way for institutions like the Open University.

Distance learning has been a cornerstone of NEC’s approach, allowing individuals to pursue education at their own pace and convenience. This flexible mode of learning has provided opportunities for those who may have faced obstacles to traditional education, such as work commitments, geographical limitations, or personal circumstances. NEC’s commitment to accessible education has played a vital role in empowering individuals and rekindling their aspirations. 

Education stands as a beacon of hope and an instrument for positive change in society. As we  navigate the complexities of social mobility, institutions like NEC play a crucial role in providing accessible and high-quality education. By empowering individuals with knowledge, skills, and opportunities, NEC contributes to the revival of social mobility and the creation of a fairer and more inclusive society.

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