Poorer children are a year behind at GCSE than richer pupils

The poorest children are nearly 13 months behind their wealthier peers by the time they sit their GCSE exams, a new report shows.

The Fair Education Alliance (FEA), a coalition of 86 organisations, has published its annual State of the Nation Report Card which shows that “on current trends”, the nation will fail to meet the coalition’s national targets for tackling educatoinal inequality by the end of this parliament.

The GCSE achievement gap has narrowed from 13.1 months to 12.8 months and the gap in literacy and numeracy at primary has narrowed from 8.4 months to 8.2 months.

According to the FEA, schools serving low-income communities fare the worst in the South East, both in terms of the lowest GCSE attainment and the largest gap compared with schools serving high-income communities.

The gap in this region is still the largest in England, at 18.7 months, compared with the national average of 12.8 months.

Children from more affluent families from state schools were almost four times as likely as young people from low-income families (3.8 times) to go on to join a higher-tariff university in 2016.

One in forty children who were eligible for free school meals, went on to one of these higher-tariff institutions, compared with almost one in ten better-off children.

Sir Richard Lambert, chair of the Fair Education Alliance commented:“Inequality in education is still deeply entrenched in our country and our Report Card is a stark reminder of the scale of the challenge.

“The government must address the funding crisis in schools – freezing school budgets in a time of rising inflation will only make the journey more difficult. As the UK seeks to reposition itself in the world, it becomes more crucial than ever that our young people are able to fulfil their potential irrespective of their parental background.”

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