Education Disadvantage Gap Has Stopped Narrowing For The First Time
Here at Mark Mate truly believe that our product (along with a number of others) can help teachers deliver better education to pupils from all backgrounds and walks of life, but a new report has revealed that the education disadvantage gap has stopped narrowing for the first time in 11 years. The report warns that this is a ‘major setback for social mobility’. It paints a difficult picture of the modern education landscape, and hints that there is almost too much work to be done to bring the disadvantage gap back in line.
The report was conducted by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) in association with the Fair Education Alliance (FEA). The report found that children from poorer backgrounds are finishing 18 months behind their peers by the end of GCSEs. Furthermore, there are vast differences between children according to where they live, their ethnicity and special educational needs and disabilities.
The report goes on to suggest that new PM Boris Johnson faces a ‘considerable challenge’ to close the disadvantage gap. The gap measures academic progress between poor pupils and their more privileged peers.
Education Disadvantage Gap By The Numbers
From 2017 to 2018, it was only primary schools that continued to narrow the gap. This was only by 0.3 months. In Early years, there was no substantial change, it widened slightly by 0.1 months taking it to 4.5 months. In secondary schools, the gap widened by 0.2 months taking it to a total of 18.1 months.
The EPI used headline subjects of English and maths to reach the figures. The report stated:
The reversal of the trend direction by the end of secondary school is noteworthy because the gap had been closing, albeit increasingly slowly, in recent years. The change in direction in 2018 means it may have reached a turning point, and if this continues in future years it could lead to the progress of recent years being undone.
What The Future Looks Like
Experts have used detailed projections to asses that it will now take more than 500 years to close the disadvantage gap. Last year, it was predicted that it would be closed by 2154. Despite this, there may come a time in the future when it stops making sense to measure trends to predict when the gap will be closed. This is because of the ‘rapidly increasing number of years until gap closure’, and the fact the gap ‘may widen in future years’.
The report also broke down trends geographically, which also showed an alarming pattern. Poorer children in areas with the largest disadvantage gaps at the age of 16 were more than two years behind their peers. The North of England shows the biggest gap. This was the case in areas such as Rotherham and Blackpool. Areas in the north west, including Bury, Halton and Wigan, saw the largest increases in disadvantage gap at secondary level. In those areas, the gap has widened by around five months since 2012.
As always, we’d love to know what you think. Do you notice the disadvantage gap in your school? How does your school handle the difference between pupils? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!