Poorest communities see massive test gains

A TES analysis of test results in England's most deprived areas suggests that extra funds have helped some schools raise pupils'

achievements. Jon Slater and Warwick Mansell report

THE two cities whose wards dominate the Government's official list of the country's poorest communities have some of the fastest-improving primary schools.

Seven of England's 10 most deprived council wards are in Liverpool and Middlesbrough, according to the index of multiple deprivation.

But a TES analysis reveals that four of the seven have far outstripped national gains in test results for 11-year-olds.

Benchill, Manchester, officially the country's poorest ward, has seen its total key stage 2 test scores in English, maths and science improve by 70 per cent since 1997.

The TES analysed the results of the 29 primaries in England's 10 most deprived wards, recording the percentage of pupils reaching level 4 in English, maths and science tests and adding them together.

In 1997, the average total in the 10 wards was 126, the equivalent of 42 per cent in each subject. By 2001, the figure had risen to 190, 63 per cent in each subject. By contrast, the national cumulative totals increased from 192 to 233, up 41.

However, outside the top 10 poorest districts, the pattern has not been completely replicated in some of the most deprived districts of Britain's other big cities. In the most disadvantaged wards of Birmingham and London, the majority of primary schools achieved gains well in advance of national improvements. However, pupils in the poorest area of Newcastle registered below-average gains.

In secondary schools, the eight comprehensives in the 10 most deprived wards saw the proportion of pupils gaining five top grade GCSEs rising from 10 per cent in 1997 to 18 per cent in 2001. The national average rose from 45 to 50 per cent over the same period.

Again, in other areas there were mixed results. St Albans Church of England comprehensive, in Sparkbrook, Birmingham, saw its figure rise only from 6 to 10 per cent. While Cumberland school, in Newham, east London, rose from 15 to 26 per cent.

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