Bury North MP James Frith, a Member of Parliament’s influential Education Select Committee, has called a new report by a leading education thinktank “damning” following its findings that the disadvantage gap is growing in education, posing a major setback for social mobility.
The findings, disclosed in the Education Policy Institute’s (EPI) Annual Report on the state of education in England, revealed that for the first time since 2011, progress in closing the GCSE attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has come to a standstill. Between 2017 and 2018, the gap widened slightly, by 0.2 months, to 18.1 months. This means that poorer pupils in England are, on average, a year and a half behind their peers by the time they finish their GCSEs. In Bury, the gap is 20.2 months, 2 months higher than the national average.
In a follow up report in response to the Government’s announcement that it would “level up” per pupil funding in England, EPI analysis found that disadvantaged pupils will be overlooked, with the average pupil eligible for free school meals attracting less than half (£56) the additional funding of the average non-disadvantaged pupil (£116).
“This damning report confirms what we already know; that this government, even with its new bells and whistles, doesn’t have a plan for every child or a clue of what our schools need. In fact, as this independent analysis confirms, Boris Johnson’s plan is more leaving-out than levelling-up.
“Schools in Bury are closing early or losing support staff just to cope with this governments woeful underfunding of our schools. They should fund schools properly with appropriate class sizes, support staff in mainstream schools and commit to a national capital spending programme to rebuild schools in Bury like Tottington High and Derby High.”