Ensuring the brightest pupils fulfil their potential is at the heart of social mobility. Our work on highly able students analyses the gaps in attainment between high-achieving children from the poorest and best off backgrounds. We have consistently found significant gaps between the top achievers from disadvantaged backgrounds and their better off peers. In particular, many children perform equally well in primary school, but slip back at GCSE level. This indicates an imperative for supporting these pupils to prevent wasted talent. Policy and provision for the highly able has historically been unclear and many initiatives have been abandoned.
The Sutton Trust is calling on the Government to establish a highly able fund, where high potential children from low and middle income backgrounds in comprehensive schools are identified at the start of compulsory education and receive sustained interventions throughout their time at school.