Education in England

Despite overall attainment increasing, the gap between the attainment of students from richer and poorer backgrounds has remained stubbornly large.

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Link to source: Early years foundation stage profile

At age five, the overall percentage of children reaching a good level of development has increased over time but the percentage point gap between those receiving free school meals and others has remained fairly constant at around 19 percentage points.

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Link to source: Statistics: Key Stage 2

At age 11 (the end of Key Stage 2 in England), changes in what is measured mean that a consistent time series is not available. However, in the most recent years the attainment gap between disadvantaged and other pupils has consistently been around 20 percentage points and the same is true of the gap between pupils eligible for free school meals and other pupils.

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Link to source: Statistics: GCSEs (Key Stage 4)

The percentage point gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils has been consistently wider at age 16 (28 percentage points) than when children are younger. 

The attainment gap has remained almost constant between 2012 and 2016. Since 2012 there has been a slight improvement in attainment; this improvement has been seen in the disadvantaged group as well as the rest of the population overall.