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Lee Elliot Major: Missing talent – how to stop bright kids falling behind

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Lee Elliot Major wrote for Prospect magazine on the Missing Talent report.

Every year there are 7,000 high achievers at primary school—pupils scoring in the top 10 per cent nationally in their Key Stage 2 tests—whose GCSE results five years later will place them outside the top 25 per cent of pupils.

Here’s who this “missing talent” is likely to be: If you are from a poor home your chances of falling within this group are double that of your more advantaged peers. Boys are more likely than girls to underachieve and a staggering 36 per cent of bright boys from low-income homes will not go on to do as well as they should at GCSE. All of this was revealed in the Sutton Trust’s latest research brief, Missing Talent, by Rebecca Allen of Education Datalab.

There is an economic and social imperative to address the problem of wasted potential, particularly among boys from poor homes. The UK fares especially badly when it comes to provision for gifted youngsters: OECD data ranked us 26th out of 34 countries for the performance of our brightest students and a damning report from Ofsted found that half of schools they visited made no additional provision for their brightest students. This has obvious knock-on effects for university and professional access. Previous research by the Sutton Trust found that private school pupils are 55 times as likely to end up at Oxbridge than their peers on free school meals and almost half of leading people in the professions have been educated at independent schools.

Read his full article here.