London pupils’ success to improve further, says study

Sep 29, 2015 by

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High academic attainment among poorer pupils in London’s schools is set to improve further, researchers suggest.

The study by the London School of Economics and the Institute for Fiscal Studies says the success should boost social mobility in the capital.

The proportion of pupils on free school meals in inner London obtaining five or more A*-C grades at GCSE has more than doubled over a decade, it finds.

London could offer “valuable lessons” for improving standards in other areas.

The study seeks to find out what is behind the “London effect” that has seen the performance of disadvantaged pupils improve dramatically.

In 2002, fewer than a quarter (22%) got at least five A*-C GCSEs (including maths and English) but by 2013, this had risen to nearly half – 48%.

Outside England’s capital, the figure rose from 17% to 26%.

‘Success story’

Researchers say the improvement in performance of disadvantaged children in London cannot be attributed to one single factor and is “complex and stretches back a number of years and through the education system”.

However, steady improvement in the capital’s schools is cited as one major factor, with improvements in primary schools playing a major role.

They found that disadvantaged pupils generally started primary school at a similar level or behind their peers elsewhere in England, but then made faster progress from the age of five to 11.

Image caption London children tend to make faster progress in primary school than those living elsewhere

The ethnically diverse mix of London is cited as another possible factor for the capital’s success, because poorer pupils from ethnic minorities tend to obtain better GCSE results than children from poor, white British backgrounds.

But the report says this only explains about one-sixth of the improvement relative to the rest of the country and most of it can be explained by rising attainment at primary level – pupils entering secondary school with better test results.

The researchers say the tide started to turn in London – “an educational success story” – before various schemed aimed at improvement were introduced.

“We show that the London advantage for poor children was present in primary and secondary schools from the mid-1990s,” the report says.

“This is well before the introduction of many recent policies that have previously been cited as the reasons for London’s success, such as the London Challenge or academies programme.”

Future success

The study concludes that the academic success of the capital’s young people is likely to gain ground.

“London’s schooling success seems likely to further grow over time as age-11 test scores continue to improve relative to elsewhere in England,” it says.

“Furthermore, it is striking that London’s improvement appears to be driven by higher quality attainment, including higher grades and GCSE qualifications rather than lower value equivalent qualifications.

“While it is too early to observe if this trend continues at later stages, there are reasons to be optimistic that this may translate into more social mobility in the capital city,” the study concludes.

Source: London pupils’ success to improve further, says study – BBC News

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