The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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Are secondary schools making enough progress in closing the attainment gap?

By Caroline Sharp

I read the latest DfE Statistical First Release on 2016 GCSE results with great interest. Although most of the press coverage focused on the league tables of schools and the relative performance of grammar, academies and local authority schools, I was drawn to the section on the attainment gap in state-funded schools. This was a case of good news/bad news. Good news: the attainment gap between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and others reduced slightly in 2016, as it has in four of the last five years. Bad news: progress is slow and the position of disadvantaged pupils in 2016 is almost the same as in 2013. In fact, the gap would have been the same as last year if you exclude the recent addition of results from students in FE colleges. Continue reading


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Schools that work for everyone: Measuring disadvantage

By Joana Andrade

The UK government has recently been consulting on new proposals for ensuring good school places and opportunity for all young people in England, regardless of disadvantage (the consultation closed earlier this week). In my previous post I argued that any such policy should be based on a broad concept of disadvantage, taking account of economic, social and cultural capitals. Continue reading


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Boarding schools can provide a springboard for disadvantaged pupils

By Suzanne Straw

The benefits for the less than one per cent of pupils in England who have the privilege to attend fee paying boarding schools are widely acknowledged. However, what are the impacts of offering fully funded boarding school places to disadvantaged pupils? This is a subject less well researched over recent years and is the focus of an evaluation of The SpringBoard Bursary Foundation (‘SpringBoard’) being undertaken by NFER between 2013 and 2018. The second year evaluation report can be found here.

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