Press release

Primary school pupils on free school meals close gap on their peers

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New figures show the poorest primary school children are closing the gap on their wealthier peers.

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The test results for more than half a million 11-year-olds (key stage 2) show 74% of pupils receiving free school meals (FSM) achieved the expected level (level 4) or above in maths compared to 87% of all other pupils.

However, the attainment gap between FSM pupils and their peers continues to narrow - by 3 percentage points since 2011 when children first started receiving the pupil premium.

Disadvantaged pupils, those eligible for FSM in the past 6 years or looked-after children, also showed improvement with the number achieving level 4 or above in reading, writing and maths increasing by 2 percentage points to 63% in 2013. The attainment gap also fell by 1 percentage point.

Schools Minister David Laws said:

It is encouraging to see that the attainment gap continues to narrow between the worst off and their peers but there is more work to be done.

Today’s figures show a number of local authorities with unacceptable levels of attainment for poorer pupils. Schools in these areas must do better.

We are supporting teachers by increasing the pupil premium for primary schools by £400 to £1,300 per pupil from next year so they have the resources they need.

And Ofsted is rightly placing more focus on the attainment of disadvantaged pupils during their inspections - so schools will be held to account for poor performance.

This year, primary schools where fewer than 60% of pupils achieved at least the expected level (level 4) in the reading test, the maths test and the teacher assessment of writing, and which were below the progress measures in all these subjects, are below the floor standard.

The standard is more challenging than last year, because pupils have to achieve at least level 4 in maths, and both reading and writing, not just in English overall.

This year 767 primary schools are below the floor.

Last year 834 primaries would have been below the floor had the floor been the same as this year.

David Laws added:

We are determined to drive up standards as quickly as possible in schools where there has been stubborn underperformance for years. More ambitious floor standards lead to high expectations for all pupils - and higher standards.

Schools respond to this challenge and deserve credit for meeting the challenge head on.

Where schools fail to improve, they will be taken over by brilliant academy sponsors with a track record of success.

Background

Local authorities with the widest FSM attainment gap 2013 in reading, writing and mathematics

Local authority FSM attainment gap in reading, writing and mathematics (percentage point) Percentage of KS2 pupils in local authority eligible for FSM
Wokingham 39 6%
Central Bedfordshire 31 12%
Stockport 30 14%
Wakefield 30 18%
Cambridgeshire 29 11%
Bath and North East Somerset 28 12%
Bracknell Forest 28 9%
Cheshire West and Chester 27 13%
Worcestershire 26 13%
Leeds 26 20%

Local authorities with the narrowest FSM attainment gap 2013 in reading, writing and mathematics

Local authority FSM attainment gap in reading, writing and mathematics (percentage point) Percentage of KS2 pupils in local authority eligible for FSM
Newham 4 38%
Camden 8 38%
Tower Hamlels 9 48%
Hackney 9 40%
Westminster 10 41%
Brent 10 28%
Lambeth 10 34%
Greenwich 11 29%
Lewisham 11 27%
Wandsworth 11 26%

Attainment gaps are based on pupils eligible for free school meals compared with all other pupils (pupils not eligible for free school meals and for whom free school meal eligibility was unclassified or could not be determined.) FSM attainment gaps are calculated on unrounded data.

Figures for 2013 are based on revised data.

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Published 12 December 2013