The All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility is launching an inquiry into the gap in educational attainment between pupils from different parts of the UK.
Through a series of evidence sessions over the next few months, the inquiry, supported by the Sutton Trust which provides the APPG secretariat, will examine why there are such big differences in how well disadvantaged pupils do in schools in different parts of the country, as well as how this can be addressed.
Last year, Ofsted’s annual report found that while secondary schools in general have improved, the gap between schools in the North and Midlands and the rest of the country has widened slightly. The Social Mobility Commission’s ‘State of the Nation’ report also highlighted how disadvantaged pupils in London are 50% more likely to get gaining five good GCSEs (45.8 per cent in 2015) than disadvantaged pupils in the other eight regions of the UK.
Data from the Education Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) Families of Schools database shows that this is not simply a difference between north and south, but that attainment gap varies between suburbs, constituencies and even postcodes. Similar schools with similar pupils can achieve very different results for their disadvantaged pupils.
The inquiry will look at the EEF’s work to evaluate school-based interventions and practices, and to spread evidence of what works around the country. The group will hear from experts and educationalists, with a view to the APPG recommending how the sector can share what works more effectively.
The inquiry will ask five questions to representatives from the education sector and those working to improve educational attainment for disadvantaged young people.
- Are the regional variations to do with demographics?
- Can the differences be explained by the different levels of education funding (and what will the new National Funding Formula mean for this)?
- Could it be down to the fact that whilst there are areas of good practice or effective local reforms, this is not being widely shared with other parts of the country?
- Is it a combination of all three of the above factors and if so, what needs to be done to address this?
- And what can we learn from different areas to facilitate not just upward mobility in education, but upward mobility in income?
Read more about the APPG on social mobility here.