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 appointed commissioners and a small secretariat. The Commission currently comprises of the Chair and Deputy Chair.  We are in the process of appointing commissioners to join them.


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: How to talk about class in the workplace

How do you talk openly about class in the workplace? In our latest Employers Masterclass, we discussed the importance of having a workplace environment where employees can talk openly about their backgrounds –enabling employees to feel able to bring their whole selves to work.  Catch up on the session and read our key takeaways from […]

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Latest Linkedin

The importance of employees feeling comfortable talking about their #socioeconomic backgrounds and sharing their personal stories in the workplace cannot be underestimated.


👇 Great article by David McIntosh of KPMG UK who reflects on his journey to becoming KPMG’s Social Mobility employee resource group co-chair in this article for Access Accountancy.

Visit our resource, Let’s talk about Class to get the conversation about #class going in your organisation.


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