But some of the poorest areas with the highest proportions of ethnic minorities, such as Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney, feature in our list of authorities doing considerably better than those with fewer free school meals - while some of the worst performers seem far from deprived.
This is a fairer way of comparing authorities than the raw results, and more likely to reveal underperformance. But it raises more questions than it answers. Are the social differences which are not taken into account by a free meals index important? If so, what are they? Or do councils have an impact by what they do - or fail to do? And why are three-quarters of the underachieving areas on this analysis north of Birmingham? Is it poverty that makes the difference or poor prospects?