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  • Education blog - NetSupport DNA

    Education blog - NetSupport DNA

    Minding the achievement gap
    8/18/2017 11:32:00 AM

    In a report released earlier this month, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) looked at the progress being made in closing the achievement gap between disadvantaged pupils and their more advantaged classmates. The report analyses students’ attainment across England over the last 10 years.

    The “Closing the Gap? Trends in Educational Attainment and Disadvantage” report finds that, since 2007, the attainment gap between the most disadvantaged pupils and their more advantaged fellow pupils has got bigger – by 0.3 months. This finding comes despite significant investment and targeted initiatives put in place by the Government, such as the Pupil Premium. Established in April 2011, this programme began with £625 million (rising in subsequent years) of extra funding being made available to schools to specifically to boost the achievement potential of disadvantaged pupils across the country.

    The EPI report reveals that even initiatives such as this haven’t really stopped the gap from widening. In some regions, a degree of progress is being made, but it is slow, and, if it continued at the current rate, say the authors, it would take another 50 years to achieve an education system where disadvantaged pupils did not fall behind their peers during formal education to age 16. That’s an awful long time.

    Which regions are struggling?
    Some areas of the country are clearly finding it more difficult than others to make progress on this. In particular, the Isle of Wight’s disadvantaged students face an uphill battle, as they are a whopping 29 months behind their peers across the rest of the country by the end of secondary school.

    Areas such as Derby, Cumbria, Knowsley, South Gloucestershire, Northumberland, Dudley and Darlington are unfortunately in the same boat. But other areas have actually managed to make significant improvements and have seen their achievement gap decline since 2012, these being: Rutland, Waltham Forest, Islington, Brent, Barnet, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Richmond on Thames.

    So what can be done?
    Clearly, some creative thinking needs to occur if this issue is to be tackled to raise the prospects of disadvantaged students across the whole of England.

    The BBC reports that the Department for Education has said that it will allocate £2.5bn this year for the Pupil Premium to help schools across the country raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. It is also intending to establish a £72m programme to create opportunities for young people in areas where disadvantaged people struggle to progress.

    Time will tell whether the additional funds will reduce the 50 year wait for the gap to close.

    United Kingdom

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