1. More money for early years Few would now question the benefits of support during the pre-school years, particularly for disadvantaged children. A child's early environment is as important as their genes in determining life prospects. But the UK spends less on early years than many other Western countries. Perhaps we need to consider the balance of education spending as well. For every pound of taxpayers' money spent on a secondary school pupil, just over 80 pence is spent on a child in early years or primary school. Is that right? I know where I would put my money - on the under-fives.
2. Better qualified nursery staff Only one in 14 staff in nurseries and children's centres is qualified to university level. Contrast this with the highly educated workforce in Scandinavia. Nursery staff should be the equals of teachers, requiring Qualified Status to work; and first priority for qualified staff should be centres serving disadvantaged areas.
3. More parenting support The reality is that parents -not schools, not teachers - have the biggest impact on the academic results of children. We need to turn to proven parenting programmes to improve the home learning environment. This is not nanny-statism. Researchers are clear about what constitutes good basic parenting - reading with children for example. And there are schemes proven to work.
4. Use what works The pendulum of policy reform is constantly introducing new initiatives into the classroom. But how many are based on passing fads? We must embrace evidence based education. The problem is not that we do not know which types of teaching works, but that schools are not systematically using proven methods. As a start, all schools should adopt catch-up schemes, such as Reading Recovery, which we know works. Perhaps then, no child will be left behind.
5. Reward good teachers Some teachers balk at the words 'performance related pay'. But it is time for a full and frank debate about the use of money to lure teachers into struggling schools in poorer areas. Yes, brilliant teachers do not do it for the pay. But money helps. Equally, schools should be able to penalise those not up to the mark.
6. Ballots for school entry We are told that no child's prospects should be decided by the roll of a dice. But the current school system is a lottery – by postcode. Where you live determines the type of school your children will attend. If more children meet a school's admissions criteria than the places available, then ballots are the fairest way to allocate places. The results can not be rigged so the 'right' children get in.
7. Open up leading schools A few exclusive schools dominate top university admissions, and monopolise the production line of future leaders in professional life. Yet they remain the preserve of the social elite. Let's democratise their intakes: for grammars, devise tests that identify academic potential (not prior support and achievement); for faith schools, use simple transparent 'yes or no' criteria to judge religious commitment; and for private schools, introduce means-tested fees for all places so entry is affordable to everyone.
8. Raise university aspirations From an early age children with graduate parents are expected to go to university; for others such aspirations come much later, if at all. We need to sow the seeds of higher education possibilities for all pupils at the end of primary school, including visits to the local university.
9. Improve advice Half of careers and education advice in state schools is inadequate. Often teachers misinform pupils. Not being 'in the know' can lead to the wrong choices with disastrous consequences for opportunities later on. Every school should have a lead teacher responsible for guidance at every key stage; and schools should be inspected on the quality of their advice.
10. University scholarships for poor bright pupils Elite universities must seek academic potential where-ever it is. Each year, thousands of top GCSE pupils do not go onto higher education; while thousands of A-level students do not enter leading universities even with the grades to do so. A national scholarship scheme, offering entry to bright pupils from disadvantaged schools, would help convince the 'it's not for me' crowd that it is, actually, very much for them.
By Lee Elliot Major (Lee Elliot Major is Research Director of the Sutton Trust and a member of the Academic Reference Group for the White Paper on social mobility.)