Closing GCSE gap could mean £110k boost for disadvantaged pupils

The economy would benefit hugely if the GCSE attainment gap across England matched the gap in London, new analysis shows

Eleanor Busby

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Some disadvantaged pupils could increase their lifetime productivity by around £110,000 if the attainment gap across the country was reduced, new analysis shows.

The analysis published by the Department for Education looks at that the difference in the number of pupils who are not disadvantaged achieving at least five GCSEs at A*-C including English and maths compared with those who are disadvantaged.

This "attainment gap" is smallest in London – at 21 percentage points. In some regions, the attainment gap exceeds 30 percentage points.

"Across the country, if the attainment gap could be reduced to the same size as it is in London, some disadvantaged individuals would increase their lifetime productivity by the equivalent of approximately £110,000 in present value terms for each pupil who improves their attainment," the report states.

Action on social mobility

And it adds that this would lead to an overall economic benefit of around £12 billion over the lifetimes of the individuals.

The analysis also estimates that if disadvantaged pupils in all regions performed as well as those pupils in London, there would be an economic benefit of around £20 billion in present value terms.

The new figures come as plans for improving social mobility are due to be unveiled.

Justine Greening, the education secretary, told Parliament on Monday that the social mobility action plan was due to be released this week.

Today’s analysis, which looks at data from 2013-14, suggests that around 125,000 more disadvantaged pupils would achieve five or more GCSEs at A* to C – including English and maths – if the attainment gap in all regions could be reduced to the same size as that in London. 

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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