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Professor Lee Elliot Major

Educational equality expert to begin new role at the University of Exeter

A leading expert on social mobility and educational inequality has been appointed to work to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who want to study at the University of Exeter.

Lee Elliot Major’s work as an Honorary Professor will also involve working with trainee teachers at the University to help them understand the difference they can make to pupil attainment, so they can help ensure children from all backgrounds reach their full potential.

Professor Elliot Major will work closely with Sir Steve Smith, the University of Exeter’s Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, on policies to widen participation. This work is part of the University of Exeter’s commitment to support, engage and inspire disadvantaged school children, so they can progress to higher education.

He will also visit local schools to discuss widening participation with teachers, working with University of Exeter educational researchers.

Professor Lee Elliot Major is Chief Executive at education charity the Sutton Trust and a founding trustee of the Education Endowment Foundation, chairing its evaluation advisory board. He is currently writing a book on Britain’s social mobility problem.

The Sutton Trust was founded in 1997 by Sir Peter Lampl to improve social mobility through education. It has funded over 200 programmes, commissioned over 180 research studies and influenced Government education policy.

The Education Endowment Foundation is a charity dedicated to enabling children and young people from all backgrounds to fulfil their potential and make the most of their talents. It has funded 127 trials, including over 100 randomised trials, involving 7,200 schools and 700,000 pupils.

Professor Elliot Major commissioned and is co-author of the Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit, an accessible summary of education research to support professionals to use their resources in ways that improve outcomes for disadvantaged children.

Previously an education journalist, he worked for the Guardian and Times Higher Education Supplement before first becoming involved in medical research with The Wellcome Trust and then turning his attention to improving education.

Professor Debra Myhill, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter, said: “We are delighted to be working with Professor Elliot Major. His influential work has helped teachers and policymakers target educational inequality, and allowed teachers to use the latest educational research in their work. This experience will be invaluable for all those he will work with at the University of Exeter.”

In recent years there has been a rise in the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds applying to and studying at the University of Exeter. The offer rate at Exeter for students applying from black and minority students (BAME) is higher than the Russell Group average. The University of Exeter operates outreach and peer-mentoring programmes which demonstrate the benefits of a university education to young people in the South West, and offers bursaries to students from low-income backgrounds.

This year the University will make offers of up to two grades lower than standard to students who live in neighbourhoods where the fewest people go on to higher education, as well as to children living in care. A significant number of additional places for students from diverse backgrounds have also been made available.

Date: 14 April 2017

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