Meet our Commissioners

The Social Mobility Commission exists to help create a country where the circumstances of someone’s birth do not determine their outcomes in life.

The SMC is a statutory, independent body comprising 12 outstanding appointed commissioners and a small secretariat. All are leaders in their field and drawn from a diverse range of backgrounds. Each Social Mobility Commissioner is appointed for a term of three years. The Commissioners draw upon their varied geographic, cultural, gender, racial, age, and professional experiences to monitor, influence, and progress social mobility.


Katharine Birbalsingh CBE

Deputy Chair

Alun Francis OBE


Katharine Birbalsingh CBE

Katharine Birbalsingh is the Chair of the Social Mobility Commission and Headmistress and co-founder of Michaela Community School in Wembley, London. 

Michaela is known for its tough-love behaviour systems, knowledge curriculum and teaching of kindness and gratitude. In 2017, OFSTED graded the school as “Outstanding” in every category. In 2019, GCSE results showed 54% of graded papers getting a grade 7 or above with 90% 4to9 in Maths and 90% 4to9 in English. 

Katharine read Philosophy & Modern Languages at The University of Oxford and has always taught in inner London. She has made numerous appearances on television and radio and has written for several UK publications. Katharine has written two books and edited a third…. and a fourth called The Power of Culture which was published in June 2020. Whether you agree with Katharine or not, she will make you think.

Ms Birbalsingh was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2020 Birthday Honours by The Queen.

Deputy Chair

Alun Francis OBE

Alun Francis is the Deputy Chair of the Social Mobility Commission and Principal and Chief Executive of Oldham College since 2010.

During this time the college has been redeveloped with an investment of over £45m, with
new facilities to support technical education from entry to degree level.  The college has
developed a reputation for strong teaching and learning, and has won a number of prestigious awards for its Teaching for Distinction CPD programme and its provision for special needs learners. It was nominated Further Education (FE) College of the Year at the 2019 TES Awards and in 2020 for innovation around remote learning. 

Prior to joining the college Alun had a varied career in local government, regeneration, youth work and education, including primary, secondary and higher education.  

Alun has a strong interest in the economics of what is now referred to as “levelling up” and sees FE colleges in general and Oldham College in particular as having a critical role to play in addressing this challenge.  

He received an Order of the Order of the British Empire for service to education in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List.

Latest news and blogs

Recap – Employers masterclass: Outreach

Our October masterclass looked at the ways in which employers can use Outreach to reach and attract a wide pool of talent. We were joined by Rachael Saunders and Funbi Akande from Speakers for Schools, a youth social mobility charity, formed in 2010 to make sure that every young person has access to the same […]

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Open letter to the Prime Minister from Social Mobility Commissioners


At the end of their term, the outgoing SMC Commissioners have sent an open letter to the Prime Minister outlining their achievements and hopes for the future 👇

Find out more