Sir Peter Lampl OBE

Through his charity the Sutton Trust, Sir Peter Lampl is levelling the playing field for tens of thousands of low and middle income young people across the UK, gaining them access to the best educational opportunities.

The Sutton Trust, founded in 1997 with Sir Peter’s own funds, has since shaped and guided the debate on social mobility in the UK. The trust has funded over 150 research studies but is primarily a ‘do tank’, initiating and supporting a wide range of programmes from early years through to access to the professions. Sir Peter’s ambition is to make the top 100 fee-charging, and also top performing day schools in Britain, open to bright children from non-privileged homes.

Believing private schools should adopt ‘needs blind’ admissions, taking the smartest local children and then means testing parents so only the more affluent pay the full fees, Sir Peter created a social experiment at independent Belvedere girls’ school in Liverpool. The seven year pilot, jointly funded by the Sutton Trust and the Girls’ Day School Trust, saw diversity rocket, with 30% of pupils on free places, 40% paying partial fees and 30% paying full fees. The first cohort achieved the school’s best ever examination results - among the best in Liverpool - with 99% of students achieving at least five good GCSEs.

Sir Peter’s first intervention after founding the trust was the creation of the Oxford Summer School. It gave bright 17-year-olds from families where no one has been to university the opportunity to spend a week at Oxford experiencing university life. The programme is now running in 10 top British universities as well as Yale and MIT in the US. A report published by the trust in 2012, showed that summer school attendees were significantly more likely to get into a highly competitive university than children with similar academic profiles who hadn’t attended.

Many others programmes have followed addressing access at all levels; from engaging parents of young children in their development to helping GCSE students make better subject choices to increase their chances of university acceptance, and creating supported pathways for non- stereotypical candidates into the legal, medical and property professions. “It’s about levelling the playing field and making sure we don’t waste talent,” says Sir Peter.

The trust has been particularly influential through its policy shaping research. In 2005, a study conducted for the charity by the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at the London School of Economics, revealed that the gap in opportunities between the rich and poor was getting wider. It is a fact that has led government to act to address social immobility.

Sir Peter is chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust with support from Impetus Trust and funded by an endowment of £125m from the government to improve the performance of the poorest children in the worst performing schools. Sir Peter says: “Giving should be hard-headed: you do nobody any favours giving without being clear your money is having a real impact.”