The FEA Report Card 2016/17

We welcome this report and share the Fair Education Alliance’s commitment to continuing to close the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers and at the same time raising the bar to ensure all pupils achieve their full potential. To do this we have invested in high quality provision for the early years, encouraged a higher calibre of graduates into teaching and introduced a new curriculum which embodies high expectations in every subject to drive up standards and raise aspiration.
— Education Secretary Nicky Morgan MP
This timely and powerful report from the Fair Education Alliance shows there remains a long way to go to tackle educational inequality.

Breaking the link between income and outcomes is the central challenge facing the English education system today. As this report reminds us, addressing this should be nothing short of a national mission.
— Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws MP
The Fair Education Alliance is at the frontline in this battle and I wholeheartedly support its efforts to elevate the importance of narrowing the attainment gap. No task is more important for the long-term success of this country and we need to use every last drop of the nation’s power to spread fairness and opportunity to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Poverty should never be a cap on aspiration.
The Labour Party was set up to fight for social justice - that every child should enjoy an equal chance to fulfil their potential is our defining mission. When it comes to closing the attainment gap, we will be with the Fair Education Alliance every step of the way.”
— Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt MP

Executive Summary

Impact goal 1

The gap in primary literacy and numeracy between those at schools serving high and low-income communities has narrowed by 0.2 months in the last year, from 8.4 months to 8.2 months. It has narrowed by 0.6 months since 2014 results in the last report card, and by 1.1 months since 2012.


The gap in GCSE attainment is measured using the average grade in full GCSE qualifications. The gap between those at schools serving low-income communities and those at schools serving high-income communities has narrowed by 0.3 months in the last year, from 13.1 months to 12.8 months. It has narrowed by 1.0 month since 2014 results in the last report card, and by 1.8 months since 2012.


This year, children from low-income families continue to be over four times as likely as other children to be permanently excluded from school; they are also three times as likely to receive one or more temporary ‘fixed period exclusions’. While the size of this gap is very similar to last year, the rate of exclusions overall has risen in 2014/15, resulting in an extra 300 children from low-income families permanently excluded, and an additional 9000 fixed period exclusions handed to these children, compared with the previous year.


In 2014/15, the gap between those from schools serving low and high-income communities remaining in education after their GCSEs has narrowed by one percentage point since 2012/13, and now stands at 7 percentage points. The gap in broader ‘positive destinations’ including work-based training has also narrowed by one percentage point since the last report card, to 6 percentage points in 2014/15.


In 2016, the gap in university entry between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers increased fractionally; this was the first increase in the gap since 2010. Children from more affluent backgrounds are currently just over twice as likely to enter university as those from low-income families; this has reduced from almost three times as likely in 2006.