Closing the Regional Attainment Gap

Sutton Trust & APPG on Social Mobility
(February 2019)


Read the report here.

This new report from the Sutton Trust summarises the evidence submitted to the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on Social Mobility Inquiry into the Regional Attainment Gap, which ran between November 2017 and June 2018. Amongst the many challenges that the APPG heard regarding the regional attainment gap, this report examined issues regarding early years provision, teacher retention, collaboration and austerity. Despite having the highest proportion of free school meal (FSM) eligible pupils at 26%, disadvantaged students in Inner London perform the best of any region in England. Both Inner and Outer London have the smallest attainment gaps between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students. While disadvantaged pupils nationally lag significantly behind average in their school performance, disadvantaged students in Inner London perform about the same as the average student. The university participation rate for disadvantaged young people in Hastings, Barnsley and Eastbourne stands at around 10%. This participation rate rises to 50% for disadvantaged young people in Kensington and Chelsea, London.

Early years intervention and its importance for tackling regional attainment was discussed in every evidence session heard by the APPG. Previous Sutton Trust research has documented that on average, children from disadvantaged backgrounds start school around 11 months behind their more advantaged counterparts. Almost every opportunity area in England has listed early years intervention as one its areas of focus. However, the APPG heard that import of austerity and economic downturn has been felt across the country leading to a third of children’s centres that were open in December 2009 being closed. Government policy has shifted away from focusing on quality early years education to focus more on providing childcare to enable parents to work.