Dates and times

From: 10 Oct 2017 - 6:00pm
To: 10 Oct 2017 - 9:30pm
Definition of 'education'

Our next Cumberland Seminar will look at the relationship between education and social cohesion, with an introductory briefing from our guest speaker, Lord (Andrew) Adonis, followed by group discussions over dinner and a closing plenary session.

This seminar over dinner will bring together leading social commentators, parliamentarians, business leaders and researchers at Cumberland Lodge, to explore the fundamental role of education in promoting social cohesion in 21st century Britain.

Lord Adonis is a former Labour politician, academic and journalist who served in the Labour Government for five years. He is currently chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission.

Focus of discussion

The seminar will focus on two key areas:

  1. Whether the education system is reproducing social segregation, rather than stimulating social mobility, As the Prime Minister Theresa May said, "...the brutal and unacceptable truth is that for far too many children in ordinary working class families, the chance they have in life is determined by where they live or how much money their parents have. This means decisively shifting Britain's education system and building a great meritocracy so that children from ordinary working families are given the chances their richer contemporaries take for granted" (‘Theresa May unveils plans for a new generation of Grammar Schools’, The Daily Telegraph, 7 March 2017)
  2. Whether the curriculum prepares young people "for life in modern Britain, and the complex world we live in" (Chris Waller, Association for Citizenship Teaching, February 2017).

These issues will be addressed in the context of a growing funding crisis that is forcing state schools to make £3billion of savings by 2020 (cited by Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, March 2017).

Participants will be asked to consider what a socially progressive educational system would look like, and how far we are from achieving one, in the UK.


A summary of the key discussion points from this seminar will be published on our Learning Resources webpages and used to inform our ongoing work in addressing what makes for more peaceful, open and inclusive societies.

'Education in England is still far too weak an engine of social mobility, skills and citizenship. In order to build a genuine one-nation society without the entrenched class divisions and poverty of the past, the chasm between private and state education – the elite and the mass – must be bridged.' - Lord  Adonis, Education, Education, Education (2012, p.xiv)

Register your interest

There is no charge to attend this seminar.

Places are limited, and we aim to ensure a balanced and diverse representation of backgrounds and perspectives. To register your interest in participating, please contact Hannah Breeze, Programme Administrator, at or call 01784 497796.

Find out more about our Cumberland Seminars here. Please note that they are held under the Chatham House Rule, to encourage the open exchange of views.