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New report highlights significant attainment gap for disadvantaged school pupils

23/11/2016 Kelly

A new report has highlighted the extent to which pupils from poorer backgrounds are lagging behind their more well-off counterparts in terms of school attainment.

Conducted by the new education charity Ambition School Leadership, the study examined student progress in the parts of the country identified as "opportunity areas" by the government. These six locations - West Somerset, Norwich, Blackpool, Scarborough, Derby and Oldham - have been recognised as areas of low social mobility and targeted for investment.

According to the charity's report, persistently disadvantaged children in these areas made 20.1 months' less progress than their wealthier peers across England in 2015, while making 5.8 months less progress than other children whose families face similar sustained poverty in other parts of the country.

Students defined as persistently disadvantaged due to being eligible for free school meals for at least 80 per cent of their time in secondary school were shown to be making the least progress, with this group falling the equivalent of 8.3 months further behind since 2010 in opportunity areas. However, even non-disadvantaged students attending schools in these regions were shown to be making below-average progress, showing this is a broad-ranging problem.

Additionally, it was shown that schools in these areas also finding it harder to improve their standards, making them more likely to see their Ofsted ratings for leadership and management decline.

James Toop, chief executive officer of Ambition School Leadership, said: "We're ambitious for every child to achieve their potential, but seeing how far students are falling behind in opportunity areas means we have to support their schools to improve."

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