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Disadvantaged pupils 'falling behind their peers'

07/08/2017 Joanna

The most disadvantaged school pupils in England are continuing to fall behind their peers, a new report has warned.

According to research by the Education Policy Institute, disadvantaged pupils are now on average more than two years of learning behind other children by the end of secondary school.

By 2016, disadvantaged pupils - who are classed as those entitled to free school meals for 80 per cent of their secondary school tenure - were an average of 19.3 months behind their peers when they took their GCSEs.

The report said this means they are falling behind by about two months a year throughout their secondary education.

Although the report pointed out that the attainment gap has narrowed slightly over the last decade, it said that, at the current rate of progress, it would be 50 years before the UK has an "equitable education system where disadvantaged pupils did not fall behind their peers during formal education to age 16".

The Education Policy Institute went on to state that there are some notable regional variations, with some parts of the country lagging significantly behind others when it comes to narrowing the gap.

For instance, the attainment gap was 29 months in the Isle of Wight, making it the place with the biggest disparity between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers.

Derby, Cumbria and Knowsley also fared badly, with above-average gaps of 27 months, while the figure was 26 months in South Gloucestershire and Northumberland.

By contrast, the disparity is well below average in Hackney, Islington, Newham, Rutland and Barnet, where the gaps are eight months.

Meanwhile, Southwark, Wandsworth and Tower Hamlets were all found to have gaps of just seven months
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