Education news

Poor pupils 18 months behind at GCSE, report finds

The attainment gap has narrowed by around a month in the space of a year

POOR teenagers are around 18 months behind their richer classmates in any given GCSE subject, according to a report.

It suggests the attainment gap has narrowed by around a month in the space of a year.

But the Education Policy Institute's (EPI) report also concludes that progress in closing the gulf in English and maths has stalled, and at current rates the gap could take a century to be eradicated.

The findings are based on an analysis of UK government data, looking at the achievement of pupils in 2017 who have been eligible for free school meals - a key measure of poverty - at any time in a six-year period, compared with their better-off peers.

The researchers calculated that in general, disadvantaged pupils were around 9.4 months behind their wealthier classmates at the end of primary school.

By the time they took their GCSEs, poorer students were 18.4 months behind in terms of average GCSE grade per subject.

This has narrowed from 19.3 months in 2016, the report said.

Looking at English language and maths only, the report said the achievement gap was 18 months, compared with 18.1 in 2016.

It calculates that at this rate of progress, it would take "well over 100 years for the disadvantage gap in English and maths to close".

David Laws, EPI's executive chairman and former Lib Dem schools minister, said: "This detailed analysis shows that over the last few years progress in reducing the gap between disadvantaged pupils and other students appears to be stalling.

"In parts of the country, poor pupils are around two years of learning behind the average of other students by the time GCSEs are being taken - this is surely unacceptable."

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