Primary school teachers will be shocked to learn that underprivileged students in challenging schools are less likely to achieve national standards this year than they were three years ago.
In a study of 165,000 disadvantaged pupils by the Education Endowment Foundation, there was a decline of almost 13 per cent in the number of underprivileged primary school pupils achieving government targets.
This is in stark contrast to results from students in other more privileged primary schools, where almost four-fifths reached the national standard last year, with the picture improving in 2011.
By the time they have reached secondary school, the same group is a third as likely to achieve the national benchmark.
It has also become apparent that white British students appear to pose the biggest challenge to teachers, being half as likely to achieve GCSE expectations as their Bangladeshi counterparts.
The study found that this demographic tends to suffer most from behavioural issues and school absences, with 14 per cent of those at secondary level being persistently absent.
Chairman of the EEF and Sutton Trust Sir Peter Lampl said the research is a reminder of the inequalities facing poor pupils in this country.
He added: "We hope that by identifying, developing and evaluating projects which are cost effective and scalable, we can start to have a lasting impact on their lives."
The EEF was set up by the Sutton Trust in partnership with Impetus and aims to raise the attainment of pupils qualifying for free meals in schools that fall below government floor standards.
Trustee of the new EEF and chief executive of Impetus Daniela Barone Soares said the focus will be on building a knowledge base of those interventions that have the greatest impact.
In effect, the collaboration aims to identify what works best for raising attainment and then hopes to bring that expertise to students who need it most.
This research has come to light just a month after it was announced that 200 of the country's most underachieving primary schools will become Academies.
Education secretary Michael Gove revealed that currently 1,400 primary schools lie below the minimum expected standard.
Posted by Harriet McGowan