Progress, but not enough where it really matters

How much difference is the Pupil Premium cash making for secondary school pupils? Not a lot so far if the latest DfE Statistics on GCSE outcomes are right. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/280689/SFR05_2014_Text_FINAL.pdf  On the wider measure, the attainment gap for the percentage achieving 5 or more GCSEs at grade A* to C or equivalent has narrowed by 8.0 percentage points between 2008/09 and 2012/13, with 69.3 per cent of pupils eligible for FSM achieving this indicator in 2012/13, compared with 85.3 per cent of all other pupils. However, the attainment gap between the percentage achieving 5 or more GCSEs at grade A* to C or equivalent including English and mathematics has narrowed by only 1.0 percentage point between 2008/09 and 2012/13 with 37.9 per cent of pupils known to be eligible for FSM achieving this indicator compared with 64.6 per cent of all other pupils. White boys are still faring badly, with just27.9% gaining the key 5A*-Cs measure including English and Mathematics. This compares with 43.1 of Black boys with similar characteristics, and 39.6% of black Caribbean boys with FSM.

Girls continue to outperform boys at all the main attainment indicators at key stage 4. The gap between the percentage of girls and boys making expected progress in English is 12.4 percentage points. This gap has narrowed slightly by 0.6 percentage points since 2011/12. The gap between the percentage of girls and boys making expected progress in mathematics is narrower than for expected progress in English at 4.7 percentage points, which has remained broadly the same since 2011/12.

All ethnic groups have made progress between 2008/98 and 2012/13in terms of the percentage of pupils obtaining 5A*-Cs including English and mathematics, although the Traveller of Irish Heritage, gypsy and Roma group still remain a long way adrift of other groups despite the small improvement in their performance on this measure. Pupils from a black background remain among the lowest performing groups, although they have shown the largest improvement. The percentage of black pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs at grade A* to C or equivalent including English and mathematics GCSEs or iGCSEs is 2.5 percentage points below the national average. This gap has narrowed by 1.7 percentage points since 2011/12 but over the longer term has narrowed by 3.7 percentage points since 2008/09.

Outcomes for pupils with SEN remain disappointing. The attainment gap between the percentage of pupils with and without any identified SEN achieving 5 or more GCSEs at grade A* to C or equivalent including English and mathematics GCSEs or iGCSEs is 47.0 percentage points – 70.4 per cent of pupils with no identified SEN achieved this compared with 23.4 per cent of pupils with SEN. This gap has widened by 2.1 percentage points since 2008/09 but has remained broadly unchanged since 2011/12. A lower percentage of pupils with SEN made expected progress in both English and mathematics. The gap is wider for mathematics at 37.0 percentage points, compared to a gap of 30.9 percentage points for English. Both gaps have widened slightly between 2011/12 and 2012/13 (by 0.6 percentage points for mathematics and 0.7 percentage points for English).

On these measures there is still much to be achieved with the target groups. It is to be hoped that by increasing the level of the Pupil Premium more for primary pupils than their secondary compatriots fewer children will enter the secondary phase of schooling unable to access the teaching made available to them through a lack of the basic skills.

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