Barking and Dagenham pupils one year behind peers at GCSEs, report finds

Some Barking and Dagenham pupils are trailing their peers by a year by the time they sit GCSEs. Pict

Some Barking and Dagenham pupils are trailing their peers by a year by the time they sit GCSEs. Picture: PA images/David Jones - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Disadvantaged pupils in Barking and Dagenham are falling more than a year behind their peers by GCSE level, research says.

The Education Policy Institute (EPI) study found disadvantaged secondary students in the borough are 13.3 months behind their wealthier counterparts.

The huge gap in attainment was revealed in the EPI report, Closing the Gap, which measured the difference between pupils who received free school meals for the majority of their time at secondary school and those who didn’t.

In early years education, pupils in Barking and Dagenham are falling 2.4 months behind their peers while this increased to 7.3 months at primary school.

The report’s authors found the attainment gap nationally was narrowing “at a very slow rate” with it taking a further 50 years to close completely by the time pupils finish their GCSEs.

Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are on average 19 months behind their peers by the time they leave secondary school.

This matters as these young people are less likely to continue into post-compulsory education.

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They also tend to have lower average earnings, poorer health and are more likely to become involved with crime than their affluent peers.

The report concluded that the current system needs addressing and that certain ethnic groups in society were suffering.

These include those with special educational needs and disabilities, those from Gypsy, Roma or traveller communities, and Black Caribbean children

A Barking and Dagenham Council spokesman said: “We are determined to ensure that all children in Barking and Dagenham, regardless of their background, get the best education possible.

“Although the disadvantage gap is a long-standing national issue, we are pleased to see that, as a result of the hard work by the schools in our borough, our attainment gap figures are within the top 25 best performing local authorities for early years, primary, and secondary school pupils, in the country.

“However, we are not complacent and continue to work with our schools to ensure all pupils have access to the support they need.”