Students from poorer areas more likely to achieve low GCSE grades, charity warns

Written by on 21/08/2019

Students from the poorest areas are significantly more likely to score low grades in their GCSEs, a charity has warned.

The most disadvantaged teenagers are almost twice as likely to achieve below a grade 4 in English and maths than their richer peers, the research by Teach First found.

The charity warned that low attainment at GCSE level is a cause for concern because it can “shut doors to future success”.

But the Department for Education (DfE) insisted that the gap between disadvantaged and advantaged pupils, at all levels, is closing.

The new figures come a day before students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their GCSE results.

Under the new GCSE grading system, a grade 4 is broadly equivalent to an old C grade and is considered a “standard pass” by the DfE.

Last year, 38% of young people from the poorest areas of England scored a grade 3 or below, including a U, in their maths GCSE, compared to 20% of those from the richest areas, the charity’s analysis of government figures revealed.

The same number of young people from poorer areas – 38% – achieved grades 1-3 or a U in GCSE English language, compared to 22% of the most advantaged.

Teach First’s analysis also shows that 13% of teens from the poorest areas gained a grade 7 – which is broadly equivalent to an A – or above in maths, compared to 26% of those from the richest areas.

In English language, 11% of the most disadvantaged students gained a grade 7-9 compared to 22% of richer students.

GCSE students from the poorest areas were also more likely to achieve low grades than their more advantaged peers in other subjects too, including history and the sciences.

Russell Hobby, chief executive of Teach First, said: “A child’s postcode should never determine how well they do at school, yet today we’ve found huge disparities based on just that.

“Low attainment at GCSE is a real cause for concern, as it can shut doors to future success and holds young people back from meeting their aspirations.”

He added that the prime minster “needs to not only hold true to his promise of more investment for schools – but he must target it at those in areas of the greatest need”.

A DfE spokeswoman said that the education gap has “narrowed significantly” since 2011.

She said: “The prime minister has committed to increasing school funding so we can level up all parts of the UK and close the opportunity gap,” she said.

“We will continue to drive up school standards right across the country, and do more to continue to attract and retain talented individuals in our classrooms as well as giving teachers the powers they need to deal with bad behaviour and bullying.”

However shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said that the Tories have “embedded inequality in our schools, with the most advantaged students losing out”.

She added: “The Conservatives have slashed funding for schools and created a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention, and a generation of children are paying the price for this government’s failure.”

(c) Sky News 2019: Students from poorer areas more likely to achieve low GCSE grades, charity warns

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