The stronger academic performance of pupils living in London compared with elsewhere in England cannot be solely explained by the city's ethnic mix, according to new research.
A report published today by the Department for Education looks at reasons for the attainment gap between London and the rest of England – the so-called "London effect".
It says that the majority of ethnic groups, including white British pupils, perform better in London than in the rest of England, across all academic years.
The report states: "As such, it can be concluded that the London effect is not explained by ethnicity alone."
The findings contrast with those of a major study which found that the relative success of London schools was explained exclusively by pupil ethnicity.
This Bristol University study found that the diversity of the capital's population was the key reason for the "London effect" because ethnic minority pupils tend to achieve higher grades than those from a white British background.
Pupils in London 'take more academic subjects'
The new DfE research focused on key stage 2 and key stage 4 assessments between 2006-07 and 2014-15 – in particular, the educational performance of pupils in receipt of free school meals.
It looked at why the educational performance in London has been improving compared with the rest of England since the late 1990s, especially for economically deprived pupils.
The report says that "factors beyond demography and socioeconomic characteristics have a role in London’s improved performance over time".
It does not conclude what the main reasons for the effect are, but suggests that pupils in London, across all academic ability ranges, are more likely to have taken a more "academic" set of subjects at KS4 than those in the rest of England.
It also finds that, while most of London’s local authorities are high performing compared with those in the rest of England, there are significant variations between London boroughs. Central and western local authorities in London have been consistently better performers over the period compared with others.