Ahead of GCSE results day, the education charity and leading teacher recruiter Teach First is warning that poorer pupils are more likely to be excluded than to achieve the government’s gold standard English Baccalaureate (Ebacc).
New analysis has highlighted that 10.3% of pupils on free school meals achieved the EBacc with a 4 or above last year, but a bigger proportion (10.7%) had faced a permanent or temporary exclusion.
Currently around a quarter of all pupils achieve the EBacc, which consists of a GCSE in English, maths, a science, a language, history or geography. The Russell Group states the EBacc is “highly valued” by top universities and the consumer advice charity Which says it helps keep “options open” for students. The government’s target is for 90% of pupils to be achieving this standard by 2025.
Pupils on free school meals are three times more likely to be excluded than other students – with 44,000 experiencing a fixed term or permanent exclusion in 2016-17. Government research has previously found that every extra day of school missed is associated with a lower chance of achieving 5 or more good GCSEs or gaining the EBacc.
In the first year that all GCSE subjects will be graded as 1-9 instead of letters, the charity says it’s also a concern that less than a quarter of disadvantaged pupils get a strong pass (grade 5 or above) in English and Maths - compared to almost half of other pupils.
Additionally, in more than half (51%) of local authorities, disadvantaged children have less than a one in five chance of achieving a strong pass in English and Maths.
Teach First is emphasising how inspiring teachers and schools can buck this trend. Applications to train and teach with Teach First in 2019 have just opened at www.teachfirst.org.uk. Since 2003 Teach First has recruited over 12,500 recent graduates and career changers to teach specifically in schools serving disadvantaged communities in England and Wales.
Russell Hobby, Chief Executive of Teach First, said:
“Exclusion is the hotly debated topic in education right now and whatever your opinions towards the EBacc, there is no denying that the subject within it are highly valued by top universities.
“So with higher rates of exclusion and lower GCSE attainment it’s a real cause for concern that poorer young people appear to lack the support and guidance they need to succeed through school, to keep their options open and to meet their aspirations.
“We need all young people to have access to the same high standards of education, regardless of their background or family income.
“We believe this starts with the many great teachers who are making a significant and life-changing difference to young people. With the next generation facing an uncertain future ahead, we need many more talented people to take up the challenge of teaching in disadvantaged communities.”
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Notes to editors
For interview requests, media enquiries or case study requests, contact the Teach First media team via email@example.com or 0203 841 8483 (including outside office hours) .
SOURCES: GCSE and equivalent results in England 2016/17 (Revised); Permanent and fixed period exclusions in England: 2016 to 2017; GCSE and equivalent results in England 2016/17 (Revised)
About Teach First
Teach First was founded as a charity in 2002. Since then, with the generous backing of countless supporters, we have been challenging the deep-rooted reality that a child’s socio-economic background is the biggest determining factor in their chances of fulfilling their potential.
We believe that disadvantage should never determine destiny. We work towards this by:
• Finding and developing talented people to teach in schools where the need is greatest.
• Developing programmes for young people living in low-income communities to help them reach their full potential beyond school.
• Supporting schools to access innovations and partnerships that accelerate their pupils’ progress.
• Providing professional development opportunities to teachers, leaders and schools so they can increase their impact on pupils.
• Building a movement of teachers, school leaders, social entrepreneurs, policymakers and business people committed to ending education inequality across all areas of society.
Since 2003, Teach First has recruited, trained and placed 12,500 teachers in schools serving low-income communities, reaching over one million young people. We currently partner with hundreds of schools across all regions of England and Wales