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Poorer children 'seeing their progress stall in secondary school'

28/02/2017 Joanna

School pupils from poorer backgrounds are seeing their progress stall when they reach secondary education, according to a new study.

The government-backed report from the Social Mobility Commission has indicated that the gap between poor pupils' attainment at the end of primary school and the end of secondary school has widened since 2012, with children from low-income families making less progress year on year compared to their more affluent peers.

Conducted by LKMco and Education Datalab using figures from the National Pupil Database, the research indicated that 88 per cent of the progress gap can be explained by differences in achievement between children at the same school, rather than the 12 per cent variation between schools.

Even when brighter pupils from underprivileged backgrounds outperformed their more advantaged peers at primary school, they were shown to be likely to be overtaken in secondary school, with children receiving free school meals more likely to be placed in lower sets, have access to less qualified teachers and have lower expectations set for them.

Since children from low-income families are also less likely to benefit from effective homework routines, have reduced access to books, computers and cultural or sporting experiences, this can negatively impact their overall level of attainment.

Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said: "If social mobility is to improve, schools need to do more to bridge the education attainment divide between poorer children and their better-off classmates. Closing the gap needs to be top of mind for every teacher in every school.

"The government can help by setting an explicit target for narrowing the attainment gap at GCSE and by doing more to get the best teachers into the toughest secondary schools."

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