Nearly half of children from the poorest backgrounds are leaving school without a single good GCSE, new research shows.
Just 0.2 per cent of pupils on free school meals achieved three As at A-level, the standard needed to get into the top universities, official figures reveal.
The stark research appears to cast doubt on the effectiveness of government attempts to get more children from deprived backgrounds into the best institutions, including Oxford and Cambridge.
The shadow Children's Secretary, Michael Gove, who obtained the figures through parliamentary questions, will tomorrow use a speech to condemn what he says is Labour's failure of social mobility.
Mr Gove said last night: "For all Gordon Brown's talk of creating a fair society with opportunity for all, the reality is very different.
"A child from a deprived background is 193 times more likely to leave school without a single good GCSE than they are to get three As at A-level."
Fourteen per cent of secondary school children are eligible for free school meals. Some 33,909 – 44 per cent – of pupils on free school meals do not gain any GCSE grades of C or above. One in 16 stays in education after the age of 16.
Last year only 0.2 per cent of free school meal pupils – 176 children – achieved three A-level A grades. In 2006, 25,948 children altogether got three A grades.
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