New tables reveal how disadvantaged pupils fall behind
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Thursday 26 January 2012
The stark gap between the performance of disadvantaged pupils and their classmates from better off backgrounds is exposed in school league tables for the first time today.
Figures (click here for the tables grouped by Local Education Authority) show that only 33.9 per cent of disadvantaged pupils achieve the benchmark of five A* to C grade GCSE passes including maths and English – compared to a national average of 58.2 per cent.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the figures revealed “a shocking waste of talent in many schools across the country”.
“All too often, pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds aren’t given the same opportunities as their peers,” he added.
Today’s league tables have been expanded to show how well disadvantaged pupils perform in every school.
They also reveal how many pupils in each school are entered for the Coalition Government’s new English Baccalaureate – which can be obtained by pupils who get five A* to C grade passes in English, maths, science, a foreign language and a humanities subject – history or geography.
The figures show a slight rise in take-up of Baccalaureate subjects – 23.7 per cent of pupils compared with 22 per cent last year – and in those achieving it – up from 15.6 per cent to 17.6 per cent.
However, any major impact is likely to be delayed until next year - by which time the GCSE cohort will have had a full two years to study for it.
Today’s tables also track how well pupils who were outstanding at primary school then went on to perform at GCSE level.
In all, 8,600 pupils – 4.9 per cent – who excelled in tests for 11-year-olds in maths and English then went on to fail to gain five top grade passes including maths and English at GCSE,
The tables still give the traditional benchmarks of GCSE passes and A-level point scores for every school in the country.
This year, 107 secondary schools failed to reach the Government’s “floor” target of of 35 per cent of all pupils getting five A* to C grade passes including maths and English. In all, 132 schools rose above the “floor” but 48 fell beneath it.
However, the new-style tables do also reveal that some schools can rise about disadvantaged circumstances.
In 21 schools where more than ten pupils were either entitled to free school meals or in local authority care, more than 80 per cent of them reached the benchmark.
“Children only have one chance at education,” said Mr Gibb. “These tables show which schools are letting children down. We will not hesitate to tackle under-performance in any school, including academies.”
* Secondary school tables 2012, ranked by Local Education Authority
* The Top 100 Comprehensive Schools at A-level
* The Top 100 Selective Schools at A-level
* The Top 100 Independent Schools at A-level
* How has the City Academy in Norwich gone from struggling school to class act?
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