Capital gains

A new report published by the Centre for Social Exclusion (CASE) at LSE explores the relative improvement in outcomes for disadvantaged pupils in London over the past two decades compared to those elsewhere in the country, the so-called “London Effect”.

The authors use two major datasets, the National Pupil Database and the Millennium Cohort Study, to describe the situation in London. They found that:

  • Disadvantaged pupils in London generally start primary school at age 5 at a similar level or behind their peers elsewhere in England. The London advantage then generally grows from the period they start school at age 5 through to age 11.
  • In 1997, about 47% of poorer pupils in both inner London and the rest of England achieved the expected level in English tests at age 11. By 2008, poorer pupils in inner London became 7 percentage points more likely to achieve this standard (75% for inner London compared with 68% for the rest of England).
  • The performance of disadvantaged pupils in London in exams at age 16 has improved substantially, starting from the mid-1990s onwards, and they are now achieving much higher results at age 16 than disadvantaged pupils outside London.
  • The characteristics of disadvantaged pupils in London are very different from those outside London, especially in terms of ethnicity. For example, disadvantaged pupils in inner London are much less likely to come from a White-British background (13% in inner London in 2013 as compared with 76% outside of London) and much more likely to come from other ethnic backgrounds.
  • Disadvantaged pupils in London are also more likely than those outside London to live in a deprived neighbourhood, to attend voluntary aided/controlled schools, less likely to attend foundation schools, and have a peer group that contains more disadvantaged pupils, more pupils from an ethnic minority, and who speak English as an Additional Language.

Source: Understanding the Improved Performance of Disadvantaged Pupils in London (2015), LSE.

Achievement gap for EALs closes as time goes by

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published two reports that investigate educational achievement by students who speak English as an additional language (EAL). There are around one million EAL pupils in England, representing 16.2% of the school population (up from 7.6% in 1997).

The first study analysed data from the National Pupil Database to find the most at-risk groups of EAL learners and to identify predictors of low attainment for them. Among the main findings were:

  • At age 5, EAL children were one-third less likely to achieve a target of good level of development than children with first-language English (FLE).
  • At age 16, EAL students demonstrated a small achievement gap for GCSE grades (58.3% of EAL students achieved five or more A*-C compared with 60.9% of FLE students), yet no gap at all for a scoring system based on performance in eight subjects at Key Stage 4.
  • There was no evidence of a negative impact on the attainment and progress of FLE students where there were high proportions of EAL students.

The second study was a systematic review that sought international evidence for effective interventions for raising standards in EAL students. Of the 29 studies that showed an impact, 27 were from the US, one from Canada, and one from the UK. Five of the studies addressed CPD for educators.

None of the interventions met criteria for high ratings for strength of evidence. The authors called for further and more rigorous research to increase the evidence base of effective interventions for EAL students.

Source: English as an Additional Language (EAL) and Educational Achievement in England: An Analysis of the National Pupil Database and A Systematic Review of Intervention Research Examining English Language and Literacy Development in Children with English as an Additional Language(EAL) (2015), Education Endowment Foundation

Summer Schools help with transition

A new report published by the Department for Education assesses the first year of their Summer Schools programme for disadvantaged pupils. The programme aims to help children eligible for free school meals (FSM) and looked-after children make the transition from primary to secondary school. In 2012, 1,776 Summer Schools were held across England.

A total of 9,682 pupils from treatment schools (that ran summer schools for disadvantaged pupils) and 11,383 pupils from comparison schools completed a survey when they started secondary school, and the authors also used data from the National Pupil Database (NPD). The results were broadly supportive of the Summer School programme and are consistent with a small positive effect on transition to secondary school, especially for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds (especially those eligible for FSM) had significantly lower levels of confidence, socialisation, and school readiness than their peers. Attending a Summer School was related to more positive attitudes (for confidence, socialisation, and school readiness); however, these should be viewed as “associations” rather than causal links.

Source: The Impact of the Summer Schools Programme on Pupils: Research Report (2013), Department for Education.

Do pupils whose second language is English affect native English speakers?

The percentage of primary school children in England who do not speak English as their first language has risen by a third to 12% over the last 10 years. This has led to concern from some that it could be having a negative impact on native English speakers’ achievement because teachers’ time would be taken up helping pupils whose second language is English. However, according to a study from the Centre for the Economics of Education, this concern is unnecessary.

The research used data from the National Pupil Database to explore the correlation between the proportion of non-native English speakers in a year group and educational attainment of native English speakers at the end of primary school. A second approach looked specifically at evidence from Catholic schools attended by the children of Polish immigrants. The results of both approaches suggest that there were no negative effects of pupils whose second language is English on the educational attainment of native English speakers.

Source: Non-native speakers of English in the classroom: What are the effects on pupil performance? (2012), Centre for the Economics of Education