Voice: The Union for Education Professionals has commented on the Education Policy Institute (EPI)’s Education in England: Annual Report 2019, warning that education funding must be increased to close the disadvantage gap.
General Secretary Deborah Lawson said:
“Although there are some alarming statistics in the report, it is good to see that there has not been a decline in standards, with overall attainment broadly stable and even increased at Key Stage 4.
“Teachers, support staff, headteachers and early years professionals continue to work tirelessly for their pupils, despite the funding and recruitment and retention crises in education and the early years.
“We must applaud them for this.
“More worrying trends include the apparent stalling of the disadvantage gap in the early years, with a more dramatic slowing down in closing the gap at Key Stage 4, especially for persistently disadvantaged pupils.
“Many of these issues can be seen as the unintended consequences of long-term austerity measures.
“The Government must heed the warning signs. Underfunding must be addressed urgently.
“Without an increase in funding, a widening of the disadvantage gap may be inevitable."
Key findings from the new research include:
- The education disadvantage gap has stopped closing, posing a major setback for social mobility. For the first time since 2011, progress in closing the GCSE attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has come to a standstill. Between 2017 and 2018, the gap widened slightly, by 0.2 months, to 18.1 months.
- This means that poorer pupils in England are, on average, a year and a half behind their peers by the time they finish their GCSEs.
- There are large geographical variations – with a gap of over 2 years in some parts of the country and just 6 months in other areas. Disadvantage gaps are larger, and are growing, in parts of the North.
- Despite these trends at secondary level, the picture at primary level is more positive, with the disadvantage gap continuing to narrow.
- Black Caribbean pupils have experienced particularly poor progress, falling further behind White British pupils. Pupils with special educational needs remain the furthest behind.
- The most persistently disadvantaged pupils are almost 2 years (22.6 months) behind at the end of GCSEs – and that gap has increased since 2011.
- Post-16 education is becoming even more segregated, driven by an over-representation of disadvantaged students in further education.
- Over recent years there has been a dramatic slowing down in the closure of the disadvantage gap. Given this and the rise in the gap in 2018, there is a real risk that we could be at a turning point, and that the progress made over recent years could be undone.
Education Policy Institute (EPI): Education in England: Annual Report 2019 (pdf)