East End kids bust GCSE top grade targets, says CentreForum think tank

PUBLISHED: 16:43 20 January 2012 | UPDATED: 19:55 24 January 2012

More kids did better than expected in London’s deprived East End State schools compared to other parts of the country in getting five or more GCSE top grade passes.

A new national table of pass rates puts Tower Hamlets in the top 10 local authority areas for pupils doing better than they’d been given credit for—despite eight out of 10 coming from deprived backgrounds.

Less than a third of the East End’s pupils who took the exams were expected to get grades A* to C including maths and English.

But 42 per cent managed it, about 11 per cent more than was thought possible, according to research by the liberal ‘think tank’ CentreForum.

It put Tower Hamlets in seventh place with Camden and Sutton on the national league table of ‘doing better than expected.’

Neighbouring Hackney did even better in sixth position, with 46 per cent passing when only 33 per cent were thought likely, while Newham was 15th with 43 per cent passing instead of 33 per cent.

“The level of overachievement in local authorities like Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham is nothing short of remarkable,” said Gill Wyness, the CentreForum report author. “Some of the poorest kids in the country are achieving great results.

“But what worries me is children with similar backgrounds from other parts of the country not performing as well.”

The achievement in Tower Hamlets was in the face of widespread poverty, with almost six-out-of-10 pupils on free school meals and 86 per cent from the country’s poorest homes.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “It is no secret that we have one of the highest levels of child poverty in the UK.

“But this report just shows that financial circumstances have not prevented our children from outperforming their peers.

“Our pupils beat the national GCSE attainment level in 2011 for the first time ever, so while CentreForum have used data from 2009-10, we’re hopeful that we might secure an even higher position in their findings next year.”

Nine of the top 10 local authority areas where pupils beat the targets were in London, according to CentreForum. Most were affluent areas like Kensington and Westminster—at the opposite end of the social scale from Tower Hamlets and Hackney where pupils shone brighter than predicted.

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