The best comprehensives take just half the rate of disadvantaged pupils as the average state school.
The proportion of disadvantaged pupils at grammar schools, five times lower than the national average.
How much more a house in the catchment area of a top comprehensive costs.
Admissions to comprehensive schools
Our research has consistently shown that the highest performing state schools are socially selective. Many of these schools are unrepresentative of the neighbourhoods around them, taking in fewer disadvantaged pupils than live in the catchment areas they draw from.
A fairer system, where access to schools is not as closely linked to income, would have benefits in terms of overall attainment, teacher recruitment and retention and social cohesion. We want to see more balanced intakes overall, with every high-performing school committed to admitting more poorer pupils.
All comprehensive schools should pledge to prioritise applicants eligible for the pupil premium, to create more socially balanced intakes. Schools who are responsible for their own admissions should introduce ballots, with an inner catchment area based on proximity and the remainder of places allocated by ballot.
Admissions to grammar schools
Disadvantaged children are much less likely than other pupils to attend selective state schools. While grammar schools educate only a small percentage of pupils in England, they account for a high proportion of entrants to leading universities. It is therefore important that access to them is fair, so they can play their part in supporting social mobility.
Grammar schools should give priority to applicants eligible for the pupil premium who meet the entrance criteria. They should provide a minimum ten hours test preparation for all pupils to provide a level playing field for the 11-plus and improve their outreach work to families from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The proportion of pupils at independent schools with full bursaries.
The average cost per year of independent day school fees.
How much more likely Britain's most influential people are to have gone to fee-paying school.
Independent schools provide a strong pipeline of students to leading universities and the top professions, but they are largely closed to families who can’t afford the fees. More teaching time, extensive extracurricular activities and smaller class sizes also mean independent schools are effective at developing pupils’ essential life skills, which are increasingly important in the world of work.
Entry to the 100 leading independent day schools should be democratised through the implementation of the Open Access Scheme, benefitting over 40,000 young people whose parents could not afford fees.
The Trust trialled this approach at the Belvedere School in Liverpool. Parents paid a sliding scale of fees according to means, with one third paying full fees, one third partial fees and a final third paying nothing. Academic standards increased and, because of the partnership with parents, the overall cost-per-place was the same as a state school.
Ten top independent day schools, such as Westminster, St Pauls, King Edwards Birmingham and Manchester Grammar have agreed to take part in a pilot of the scheme, benefitting 1,000 pupils per year.
Independent-state school partnerships
Building and strengthening independent-state school partnerships can help break down the barriers between the two sectors and improve opportunities for pupils to access specialist teachers, good university links and first class sports facilities.
The proportion of young people who have received private tuition.
The number of previously high-attaining disadvantaged students who miss out on top grades at GCSE.
How much more likely disadvantaged students are to leave education without GCSEs in English and maths.
The pupil premium
Since 2011, the pupil premium has been the key lever for improving the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.
The pupil premium should continue to be paid for all disadvantaged pupils, including those that are high-attaining, with per-pupil rates protected, as a minimum. Schools should be encouraged to spend a portion of their pupil premium money on evidence-based, effective approaches, for example on teacher wages and professional development to tackle recruitment and retention challenges. The government should introduce a post-16 premium for disadvantaged students in further education and sixth-forms.
Investing in high-quality teaching is the most effective way to improve the attainment of pupils. Yet schools serving disadvantaged communities are more likely to be staffed by teachers without qualified teacher status, with fewer years of experience and by non-specialist science and maths teachers.
The government should monitor social inequalities in teacher recruitment and make sure that schools in poorer communities have well-qualified and experienced staff. School should spend their pupil premium funds on recruiting, retaining and developing their teachers.
Access to tuition
The private tuition industry has grown dramatically in the past decade. A quarter of secondary school pupils now say that they have been tutored. But with costs averaging £25 per hour, many families can’t afford to give their child this additional support.
The Sutton Trust is working with the Education Endowment Foundation, Nesta, Teach First and Impetus on the National Tutoring Programme, as a direct response to the Covid-19 crisis. But as well as playing an important role in the COVID-19 catch up response, in the long term the NTP has the potential to transform access to tuition for disadvantaged children. The NTP should receive long term funding, with costs gradually transferred from direct government subsidy to the pupil premium, with schools encouraged to spend pupil premium funds on one-to-one and small group tuition.
More private tuition agencies should provide a certain proportion of their tuition to disadvantaged pupils for free.
Provision for highly able students
Disadvantaged pupils are much less likely to be in the highest-attaining 10% at the end of primary school. Even for those disadvantaged pupils who do perform strongly in primary school, they are much more likely to fall behind at secondary school, compared to other high-attaining students.
The government should establish a fund to support young people with high academic potential, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This programme should be informed by evidence on what works for that group.
The proportion of teachers that believe their school should increase its focus on teaching life skills.
The proportion of employers who say that life skills are as important as academic results for the success of young people.
The proportion of pupils that don't take part in extra-curricular activities run by their school.
Embed essential life skills in the curriculum
Education is about more than just exam results. Adult life requires a range of skills in order for people to flourish, both in the workplace and in their daily lives, from the confidence and motivation to seek challenges and complete tasks, to the interpersonal skills that aid teamwork and other social interactions. Essential life skills such as motivation, confidence, communication, self-control and coping with stress are crucial to the life chances of young people. In a jobs market where these skills are increasingly valued by employers, more needs to be done to give all young people a chance to develop them.
State schools should be funded and incentivised to develop essential life skills in their students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, both in and out of the classroom.
The development of life skills should be embedded in day-to-day teaching, with dedicated time allocated within the curriculum, classroom strategies such as
small-group learning, alongside access to extracurricular activities.
Access to extra-curricular activities
Outside of the school gates, access to extracurricular activities is limited for those who cannot afford to pay. Addressing these access gaps is key to ensuring all young people receive the education they need to reach their potential.
Schools should focus on ensuring a wider range of their pupils develop a broad array of non-academic skills, through both classroom strategies and extra-curricular enrichment activities such as debating, cultural visits and volunteering.
Pupils from independent schools were twice as likely to take part in online lessons every day.
Less than 50% of parents without HE qualifications felt confident directing their child’s learning at home.
School closures are likely to reverse progress made to narrow the attainment gap in the last decade.
Our research has found big differences in access to the resources needed for remote learning. During the first lockdown, 15% of teachers in the most deprived schools said that more than a third of their students learning from home would not have adequate access to an electronic device for learning, compared to only 2% in the most affluent state schools. 12% of teachers in the most deprived schools also felt that more than a third of their students would not have adequate internet access.
While the government has provided laptops and internet access to some students, many disadvantaged young people still do not have the equipment needed to take part in learning at home. At the same time, many pupils are still having to learn remotely during periods of self-isolation, risking a further widening of the attainment gap.
All young people should have access to the resources needed to learn remotely.
The Sutton Trust is working with the Education Endowment Foundation, Nesta, Teach First and Impetus on the National Tutoring Programme, as a direct response to the Covid-19 crisis. The NTP will play an important role in helping to close the COVID-19 attainment gap.
However, the scale of the impact the pandemic has had on disadvantaged young people is considerable, and it is highly likely additional catch up support will be needed. A full assessment is needed of the pandemic’s impact on the attainment gap. Additional funding is likely to be needed over several years to meet the scale of the challenge.