Closing the gap

December 24, 2015

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s call for a major new focus on closing the attainment gap is welcome. Not only is there a strong social imperative to narrow the attainment and access gaps at every stage of a young person’s life, but there is also an economic incentive.

Access to our best universities and top professions is still too dependent on background. We need to improve access with better subject choices in schools and more focused outreach by universities. The best employers are diversifying their workforce with higher apprenticeships and fair internships. We need more organisations to meet that challenge.

Although some schools are making excellent progress in narrowing the gap between their richest and poorest pupils, it is clear that some are not and, nationally, the attainment gap remains large and persistent. If we are to achieve the commission’s aim of bringing poor children across the country up to the current performance of their peers in inner London, it is vital that schools use rigorous research to inform decisions about spending pupil premium funding.

We must focus on providing quality education in the early years, so that disadvantaged children gain the developmental skills they need. We need to make sure that every child has access to high-quality teaching by recruiting more good teachers and by boosting the quality of the 450,000 teachers already employed. This will be especially beneficial for poorer pupils as our research has shown that the difference between a good teacher and a bad teacher for this group is a whole year’s learning.

Sir Peter Lampl Chairman
Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation

Sir Kevan Collins
Chief executive Education Endowment Foundation

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