The attainment gap: 2017

By the Education Endowment Foundation

The attainment gap: 2017

To begin to tackle the challenge of the attainment gap requires us first to understand it – both the scale and nature of the gap, as well as the factors most likely to help close it. This report assesses the attainment gap through the lens, first, of children and young people; and secondly, of schools, as well as early years and post16 settings. It highlights and summarises what the authors believe to be the key issues, and how analysis of them can inform practical work with teachers and senior leaders. Some of the findings include:

  • The attainment gap is largest for children and young people eligible for free school meals (the best available proxy measure of economic disadvantage) and those assessed with special educational needs.
  • The gap begins in the early years and is already evident when children begin school aged 5.
  • The gap grows wider at every following stage of education: it more than doubles to 9.5 months by the end of primary school, and then more than doubles again, to 19.3 months, by the end of secondary school. This shows the importance of intervening early and then of continuing to attend to the needs of disadvantaged pupils.

The authors then summarise 15 of the key lessons the EEF has learned from our six years funding work to generate evidence of ‘what works’ to improve teaching and learning; and then scaling that evidence to create the maximum possible benefit for children and young people, particularly those facing disadvantage.

Read the report here.