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Education: Standards

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL9682, tabled on 27 October 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to close the educational attainment gap between wealthy and deprived areas.

Answered on

10 November 2020

The government established the Opportunity Areas programme in 2017 to focus resources on transforming the life chances of children and young people in 12 areas of the country with low social mobility. We are investing £90 million to tackle regional inequality, convene resources, test new approaches and unlock barriers in those geographic areas where educational challenges are greatest.

Nationally, the department’s pupil premium grant provides additional funding to schools based on the number of disadvantaged pupils on roll. We have invested more than £18 billion since 2011, and another £2.4 billion this year, to enable schools to arrange extra support for their pupils. This is accelerating their progress and narrowing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. The attainment gap index shows the attainment gap has narrowed by 9% at age 16 and 13% at age 11 since 2011. We established the Education Endowment Foundation with £137 million to research and promote the most effective ways of using pupil premium, so that all schools can make a difference to their disadvantaged pupils’ futures. Schools should consult their pupil premium guide when arranging support for their pupils.

We are aware that all pupils, irrespective of where they live, have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package will give additional funding to schools to support pupils whose education has been negatively affected by the outbreak. As part of this package, the National Tutoring Programme will target £350 million to boost the progress of disadvantaged pupils through providing access to subsidised tuition supplied by approved tuition partners. Schools in the most deprived areas will also be supported to use in-house academic mentors to provide intensive catch-up support to their pupils in small groups. This sits alongside our £650 million universal catch-up premium, which will enable schools to prioritise support for pupils in line with their levels of need. The Education Endowment Foundation has published guidance to help schools make the most of this catch-up funding, which is available here: