'The Attainment Gap': a new report from the Education Endowment Foundation is released

The Attainment Gap looks at the gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged children and young people, including those with SEND, at all stages of education. We provide a summary here, and a link to the original report.

The report states that the attainment gap is largest for children and young people who claim free school meals, and for those with special educational needs; the gap begins in the early years and grows at every stage of education, so that by the end of secondary school, it is 19.3 months. This means that it is crucial that we intervene early and continue to attend to the needs of these groups.

The gap has reduced slightly over the last ten years, following much hard work by schools and settings, but it remains significant: the forecast is that over the next five years, no headway will be made on Attainment 8 and the gap will actually widen for Progress 8. At the current rate, it would take 50 years to close the gap.

Interestingly, the data shows that there is no difference in the size of the gap between schools with different Ofsted ratings; it makes no difference whether a school is 'outstanding' or 'inadequate', the gap is aroung 10%. However, 10% of primary schools and 8% of secondary schools show us that it is possible for this gap to be closed altogether: in these schools, disadvantaged children perform better than the national average for all children.

The EEF goes on to list 15 key lessons from its last six years, including:

- transition between phases of educaiton is a risk-point for vulnerable learners - we need to diagnose needs as early as possible to put effective support in place [see our new resource, 'Information Summary for Transition' to support you with this]

- catch up is difficult - we need to get it right the first time 

- sharing effective practice between schools is key to closing the gap [see the Strategic SEND section on the SEND Gateway, www.sendgateway.org.uk, to look at examples of effective practice for SEND submitted by schools, and consider sharing your own there].

Read the original report.

Related resources

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  • Information summary for transition

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    This is a useful tool which you could use to summarise and collate the essential information you need about children and young people with SEND at transition points.

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