The Guardian is reporting new research that suggests bright students from disadvantaged backgrounds are falling behind after their GCSEs and are barely half as likely to achieve three A-levels as their better-off peers…
…The report by Oxford University’s department of education found that just 35% of disadvantaged students (distinguished by their being on free school meals) who were identified as highly able at the age of 11 – on grounds that they gained level 5 or above in their end-of-primary-school national tests – went on to get three A-levels compared with 60% of their wealthier counterparts.
Only 33% of the disadvantaged group took one or more A-levels in the so-called “facilitating subjects” favoured by universities, such as maths, English, the sciences, humanities and modern languages, compared with 58% of their better-advantaged peers.
The research paints a bleak picture of the disparity between the most privileged and the most disadvantaged, but it identifies a number of factors that significantly improve poorer students’ chances of gaining good A-levels.
If they go on trips to museums and galleries, and read for pleasure in a supportive home-learning environment, their chances improve markedly. And if they develop a habit of doing daily homework before and during their GCSEs, they are nine times as likely to get three A-levels.
The report – called Subject to Background, by Pam Sammons, Katalin Toth and Kathy Sylva – draws on data from more than 3,000 young people who have been tracked through school since the age of three for the Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) project. It was commissioned by the Sutton Trust, an education charity that attempts to address educational inequality…
The Sutton Trust reports that the researchers identified a number of factors that made it significantly more likely that the bright disadvantaged students would attain 3 A-levels including:
- Having benefited from pre-school education, especially of higher quality
- Having had enrichment and supportive home learning environments from a young age, including reading books and going on educational outings during the early years of secondary school
- Having been to an outstanding secondary school (as rated by Ofsted) and one where there were good relationships of trust between teachers and students, with regular feedback
- Having spent more time doing daily homework on a regular basis before and during their GCSEs
The researchers also recommend that bright, poor students should receive “enrichment” vouchers, funded through the pupil premium, to help with educational trips, reading for pleasure and studies outside the classroom…
Read the full report from the Sutton Trust at: Subject to Background: What promotes better achievement for bright but disadvantaged students?
Your thoughts on these findings from the Sutton Trust research, and the recommendations for improving the prospects of bright disadvantaged students? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…
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