The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published a new analysis of the state of the attainment gap in the UK. Using data from Key Stage 2 to predict how the attainment gap is likely to shift in the next five years, it reveals that there will be little or no headway in closing the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates in the next five years.
Improvements in primary schools over the past few years mean that:
- The gap between the proportion of disadvantaged pupils with at least a good pass at GCSE in English and Mathematics and all other pupils is set to reduce from 24 percentage points to 21.5 between 2017 and 2021.
- However, there will be little change in Attainment 8 (which measures average achievement in GCSE across eight subjects) and Progress 8 (which measures students’ progress between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 across eight subjects) gaps.
- The Attainment 8 score gap of 11 points in 2017 will remain in 2021, while for Progress 8 the attainment gap is set to increase a little: from 14.8 points in 2017 to 15.6 points in 2021.
The analysis emphasises that even small improvements – just one or two GCSE passes compared to no qualifications – can have significant increases on a young person’s lifetime productivity returns and in national wealth. This highlights the importance of continuing to focus on improving results for currently low-attaining pupils.
The report also contains 15 key lessons from the first six years of the EEF on closing the attainment gap.
The Education Endowment Foundation (2018). The attainment gap 2017. London, England: The Education Endowment Foundation.