Lessons from London schools for attainment gaps and social mobility
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Ellen Greaves, Dr Lindsey Macmillan and Luke Sibieta

Disadvantaged pupils in London and other big cities perform better than those elsewhere in England, research by the Social Mobility and Poverty Commission finds. Inner London pupils in particular have significantly improved their GCSE performance over the last decade. But this research suggests this improvement has more to do with pupils doing well at primary school rather than any particularly initiatives or policy changes.

The National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies might possibly be the one exception: the research shows these programmes coincided with a large improvement in disadvantaged pupils’ primary school performance between 1999 and 2003, but as these were rolled out across the country it is difficult to say they had a particular effect on London.

What does seem to be a particularly ‘London effect’ is the high levels of participation in Key Stage 5 education for London pupils. While other major cities like Manchester and Birmingham also show the importance of a good primary school experience in helping disadvantaged pupils to achieve good grades at GCSE level, the capital seem to be unique in translating this into participation in non-compulsory education. The researchers argue this is a good case for saying that secondary schools still have an important role to play in helping pupils get the most out of their education. 

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Ellen Greaves, Dr Lindsey Macmillan and Luke Sibieta

Published by:
Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission

Date of publication:
June 2014

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The research offers an interesting prospective on the value of taking a long-term view of education initiatives, which may be useful for readers concerned with tracking the results of different policies and practices. The researchers suggest that achievements can take a long time to become visible, especially given the apparent importance of early and primary education, as the benefits of these may only be seen in children’s teenage years. 


Record ID:
R118 / 214
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