Ethnic composition and the London Effect

The London Effect describes the significantly higher scores of students in the capital compared with those who study elsewhere in England. A report from the Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO), University of Bristol, examines the effect by looking at the progress and attainment of students in secondary schools, using data from the National Pupil Database.

The CMPO analysis confirms that student progress on standardized measures is significantly higher in London than in the rest of England (9.7 percentage points of a standard deviation higher in London). It also finds that an even greater effect can be found in Birmingham (13.4 percentage points higher), but not in Manchester or Newcastle.

Much of the effect is explained by ethnic composition. Throughout England, White British pupils have the lowest progress measure, while Chinese and Black African students have the highest. London has a higher proportion of high-performing groups and a lower proportion of low-performing groups, principally White British students. There is also a positive effect for recent immigrants, although this is difficult to untangle from ethnic status.

The report concludes with two lessons for policymakers – that multi-ethnic school systems can be very productive and that in areas without recent immigrants a focus on encouraging pupils’ engagement with school, hard work, and aspiration may bear fruit.

Source: Understanding the Success of London’s Schools (2014), CMPO Working Paper 14/333

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