In their latest report, the Education Policy Institute examine the progress made in closing the gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.
The analysis considers how the gap has changed since 2007 and how it varies geographically. They also conclude that the education system neglect those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), who are struggling to keep pace with their peers.
Pupils with special educational needs and disabilities are disproportionately found at the lower end of the attainment distribution. The findings signal a wide variation within the group of children identified with SEND; with around 15% being in the top half of the attainment distribution.
DYT welcomes the inclusion of SEND in the findings, our report earlier this year looked at the potential impact that educational policy research overlooking SEND pupils could have on their attainment outcomes.
Natalie Perera, Executive Director of the Education Policy Institute writes for TES that “higher-attaining pupils with SEND fall behind as they progress through school. So, not only are they starting school with lower than average attainment, where they are doing well, we are struggling to support them to maintain their attainment levels.”
She added that late identification, geographical disparities in identification and variation in support all are contributing factors to the suppression of attainment among SEND pupils.
Furthermore, the report finds that the most disadvantaged pupils in England have fallen further behind their peers, and are now on average over 2 full years of learning behind non-disadvantaged pupils by the end of secondary.
Although, there has been some progress in closing the gap for disadvantaged pupils on average in England since 2007, the gap is closing slowly and inconsistently. In 2016, disadvantaged pupils were on average 19.3 months behind their peers by the time they took their GCSEs and it would take a full 50 years to reach an equitable education system.
The EPI recommends that the DfE should expand the number of “Opportunity Areas” to other local authorities including Darlington, Rossendale and Boston.
The EPI are doing a in depth study of SEND later in the year which we look forward to seeing.
Read the full report here.