Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in Tower Hamlets keep pace with their wealthier classmates, research reveals

The gap in attainment between pupils from poor and wealthy schools in Tower Hamlets is just 3.8 mont

The gap in attainment between pupils from poor and wealthy schools in Tower Hamlets is just 3.8 months. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

In some parts of the country school pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds lag more than two years behind their wealthier classmates by the time they come to sit their GCSEs, new research has revealed.

However this is not the case in Tower Hamlets, where coming from a disadvantaged background has a strikingly small impact on pupil attainment compared to the rest of the country.

The gap in attainment between pupils from poor and wealthy schools in Tower Hamlets is just 3.8 months, according to the research by the Education Policy Institute (EPI). This score has improved by 1.6 months since 2012.

Nationally only local authorities in Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea scored better, while the Isle of Wight had the largest disadvantage gap of 27.2 months.

Disadvantaged school pupils on the Isle of Wight were 27.2 months behind their classmates from wealthier families, which is the most unequal score in the country.


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EPI figures also show the borough has the highest levels of “persistently disadvantaged pupils” of anywhere in the country at both primary and secondary school, at 29 and 34 per cent respectively.

This is defined as the number of pupils who are eligible for free school meals for 80 per cent or more of their time in school.

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Other boroughs with high levels of disadvantaged pupils such as Islington and Hackney also managed to minimise levels of educational inequality, with the gap between poorer and richer students standing at 7.8 months and 5 months respectively.

Daniel Carr, senior researcher at the EPI, said “there are several theories” behind the success of London boroughs in reducing educational inequality but improvements to primary schools in the 1990s and the ethnic diversity of London’s schools are likely factors, as well as the London Challenge scheme which aimed to narrow the attainment gap of pupils and Teach First, which places university graduates in challenging schools.

Other parts of the country can “continue to draw lessons from the capital” he added.

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets Council said: “Tower Hamlets is very proud to be an inclusive borough that provides excellent opportunities for all our pupils, whatever their background.”

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