Gap between poorest pupils and their peers at lowest for five years


New secondary school performance shows that the gap between pupils on free school meals and all other pupils achieving five or more A* to C GCSEs, including in English and maths, is at its lowest for five years.

More than a third of pupils (36.3 per cent) on free school meals achieved the key indicator, against 62.6 per cent of all other pupils.

The five local authorities with the narrowest gaps in free school meals in the main indicator are all in London: Kensington and Chelsea (gap of 3.4 per cent, 16.4 per cent pupils of free school meals in the borough); Tower Hamlets (5.4 per cent,  55.1 per cent); Westminster (7.5 per cent, 36.2 per cent); Lambeth (9.8 per cent; 32 per cent); and Southwark (10.7 per cent, 33.9 per cent). However, the gap in Southwark, though one of the lowest, has widened.

The five local authorities with the widest gaps are: Buckinghamshire (42.6 per cent, 5.8 per cent); Southend-on-Sea (42.2 per cent, 11.8 per cent); Wokingham (41.6 per cent, 5.1 per cent); Warrington (41.2 per cent, 8.7 per cent); and Sutton (39.7 per cent, 7.6 per cent).

The figures also show how academy sponsors are dramatically turning around the under-performing schools they take over.

The secondary school performance tables show that standards are rising in sponsored academies more than five times as quickly than in all state-funded schools.

Across all state-funded schools, the proportion of pupils who achieved at least five good GCSEs (including in English and maths) rose by 0.6 percentage points. In sponsored academies, the increase was 3.1 percentage points.

A school is below the floor if 40 per cent of its pupils do not achieve at least five GCSEs at C or better including English and maths, and if pupils’ progress is not good enough in both those two subjects. Last year the floor standard was 35 per cent in attainment, and the progress measures.

Overall 195 secondary schools are below the floor this year, 56 fewer than last year had the floor been the same (40 per cent). At 35 per cent, as it was, 107 schools were below the floor.

There was a six percentage point increase (to 88 per cent) in the proportion of sponsored academies offering the EBacc – the combination of core academic subjects most valued by universities and employers.

Across all state-funded schools, 16 per cent of pupils achieved the EBacc, up almost one percentage point.

School Leadership Today