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Where KS4 pupils are most likely to struggle

Gender, ethnicity and deprivation shown to be indicators of underachievement

Children living in the East Midlands are more likely to fall behind as they approach key stage 4 than their peers in other parts of the country, according to a new report.

Research commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families pinpointed a number of reasons for pupils' academic performance slipping after KS3. These included gender, ethnicity, special educational needs and deprivation.

The study detailed the pupils who were most likely to underachieve at KS4 following previous high or moderate results: they were boys, white British, those with special educational needs, those entitled to free school meals and those living in a deprived area.

Pupils living in the East Midlands were more likely to slip than their peers in London, the North East and the North West. The odds of a pupil's academic record deteriorating were 1.10 if they lived in the East Midlands. Other regions where underachievement was more likely were the East of England, the West Midlands and the South East. The report's authors acknowledged that these regional differences were difficult to interpret.

Sarah McCarthy-Fry, the junior schools minister, said: "The report does identify that deprivation played a key part in the drop in attainment level between KS3 and KS4 for some pupils.

"Over the past 10 years, gaps between schools have narrowed significantly, with faster progress made by more deprived areas and by schools with the highest levels of free school meal pupils."

Local authorities in the East Midlands emphasised that there were still significant differences within the region. Christine Talbot, Lincolnshire County Council's executive member for secondary education, said: "In comparison with neighbouring authorities in the region, Lincolnshire continues to outperform them all at KS4."

How regions vary

Area - Odds of underachievement

East Midlands - 1.1

East of England - 1

West Midlands - 1

South East - 1

South West - 0.94

Yorkshire and The Humber - 0.94

North East - 0.75

North West - 0.75

London - 0.73.

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