Schools are being urged to do more to improve the prospects of disadvantaged children by emulating institutions that have already done so.
A new report by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission states that some schools in highly disadvantaged areas have "cracked the code" and are managing to break the link between wealth and academic attainment.
According to the study, the best performers are helping three times as many disadvantaged children to achieve five good GCSEs including English and Maths as schools with similar levels of disadvantage.
Some 60 per cent of disadvantaged youngsters in the best-performing institutions achieve five good GCSEs including English and Maths compared to only 25 per cent in the lowest-performing ones.
Over 14,000 more disadvantaged students would get five good GCSEs each year if schools closed half the gap in performance to the top 20 per cent of schools with similar concentrations of disadvantage, the report claims. This would mean 25 per cent more disadvantaged pupils would get five good GCSEs than achieved this benchmark in 2012-13.
The report presents a number of key findings, one of which is that some schools may need to increase their focus on core subjects and raising attainment levels across the whole ability range.
In addition, the expectations of those in teaching jobs with respect to those from disadvantaged backgrounds needs to be raised, in some cases. The report states that better incentives may be needed to encourage the best teachers to work in schools with the most challenges.
More could be done to develop strategies that could engage parents, while the pupil premium should be used strategically to improve social mobility.
The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the commission, said: "Some schools are proving that deprivation needn't be destiny. They have cracked the code on how to improve social mobility by helping disadvantaged children to excel in education. If some schools can do it, there is no excuse for others not to.
"By following the lead of the code-breakers schools can transform the lives of tens of thousands more disadvantaged children."
Posted Alan Douglas