Written by Pam Sammons, Katalin Toth, and Kathy Sylva, this report looks at children’s education careers by drawing on data from a sample of more than 3,000 young people who have been tracked through school since the age of three. In particular, this research identified a group of disadvantaged children, establishing what predicted their academic success at the age of 11 and following them up to age 18. The findings reveal that bright but disadvantaged children are considerably less likely to take the subjects most likely to get them into good universities than their more advantaged counterparts.
- Support to encourage reading for pleasure, educational trips and out-of-school studying opportunities should be provided to promote attainment for disadvantaged students at all ages, and especially those who were found to be high attaining at age 11. Enrichment vouchers should be funded through the pupil premium for both primary and secondary pupils.
- Bright but disadvantaged students should have more opportunities to go to the best schools – those rated outstanding – by Ofsted with fairer admissions policies linked to free school transport.
- Teachers should provide good feedback to students and monitor their work systematically.
- Disadvantaged children should be given the opportunity to attend good pre-school settings with qualified staff.
- Some groups of students, particularly white working class boys, should have additional encouragement and support to enable them to engage in self-directed study, do sufficient homework and read more books, the activities that provide extra academic dividends. Schools should provide such opportunities where they are unlikely to be available at home.
- Schools and colleges need to monitor and guide option choices to ensure bright but disadvantaged students maximise their potential to enter higher education, especially the best universities and more prestigious courses.