On the 26th August the Education Policy Institute in partnership with the Fair Education Alliance launched a joint report that looks at the attainment by pupils in state-funded schools from Early Years, through to key stage 2 and key stage 4, as well as trends in post 16 destinations.
The report measures the disadvantage gap by comparing attainment between pupils eligible for Pupil Premium funding and the rest as well as differences in performance between pupils from different ethnic backgrounds, pupils with special educational needs and disability and regional difference
Progress has stalled in tackling inequalities in our education system, and school closures make it likely that any progress made since 2011 will be reversed. If current trends continue, the disadvantage gap will never close.
Key Messages from the Report
- Researchers have found that Persistently disadvantaged children (who have been eligible for Free School Meals for more than 80% of their school life) were on average 22 months behind their more advantaged peers. This has not improved since 2011.
- These new findings also show that the gap at primary school increased for the first time since 2007 – a trend which may signal that the gap is set to widen in the future.
- Furthermore, there remains huge inequalities in attainment outcomes in the two main compulsory subjects, Maths and English with a gap of 17.5 months in Maths and 16.2 months in English.
- The disadvantage gap is also widening for the most vulnerable children. By the time looked after children sit their GCSEs, they are 29 months behind their peers. Meanwhile, children in need with a child protection plan are 26 months behind, and children in need without a child protection plan are 20 months behind.
- Gaps in attainment have widened significantly over the past decade between Black Caribbean children/children from other black backgrounds and children from other ethnicities too. There has been a widening of the gap by 3 months (77 percent) for pupils from children from Black backgrounds (not Caribbean), by 4.4 months (68 percent) for Black Caribbean pupils, and by 2.1 months (11 percent) for those children arriving late in secondary school with English as an Additional Language.
- Importantly, the data gathered for this report is school data from 2019, pre-dating the 2020 global pandemic and the subsequent school closures. We know that Covid-19 has only exacerbated this situation. Evidence from EEF in June showed 'School closures are likely to reverse progress made to close the gap in the last decade since 2011.