In this report the Education Policy Institute examines the progress made in closing the gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. The analysis considers how that gap varies across the country and how it has changed since 2007. The report finds that the most disadvantaged pupils in England have fallen further behind their peers, and are now on average over 2 full years of learning behind non-disadvantaged pupils by the end of secondary.
While there has been some progress in closing the gap for disadvantaged pupils on average in England since 2007, (narrowing by three months by the end of secondary), this gap is closing slowly and inconsistently – despite considerable investment and targeted intervention programmes by the government. In 2016, disadvantaged pupils were on average 19.3 months behind their peers by the time they took their GCSEs – meaning they are falling behind by around 2 months each year over the course of secondary school. At the current rate of progress, the report finds that it would take a full 50 years to reach an equitable education system where disadvantaged pupils did not fall behind their peers during formal education to age 16.