Norfolk’s disadvantaged children fall two years behind their classmates by GSCEs, report says


Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: EDP, Archant

Norfolk's most disadvantaged children are almost two years behind their peers by the time they reach secondary schools, a new report says.

The study, by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), suggests that youngsters who have spent the majority of their time at secondary school eligible for free school dinners - a key measure of poverty - are increasingly lagging behind in their attainment.

Researchers used government statistics for 2016 to examine the average performance of poorer pupils and that of their richer peers.

The findings show that across all state secondary schools, including special schools, 'persistently disadvantaged' children - those eligible for free meals for 80pc of their time at school - were 24.3 months behind their wealthier classmates.

In Norfolk, disadvantaged children were 5.8 months behind their peers in their early years, a figure which rises to 9.4 by primary school and reaches 23.7 by secondary school.

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The report says the attainment gap in Suffolk is 8.8 months in primary schools and rises to 23.4 months for secondaries.

In Cambridgeshire, it reaches 10.3 months by primary stage and 22 at high schools.

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The report also shows the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils generally, for all types of state secondary school, now stands at 19.3 months.

The researchers conclude that at the current rate of progress, it would take 50 years to reach a point where disadvantaged children did not fall behind their wealthier classmates during their formal education to age 16.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: 'We are determined to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, get the excellent education they deserve.'

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