Educational attainment in rural areas

This project assessed whether there are true differences in educational attainment at key stages 3 and 4 between rural and urban areas.



The delivery of education in rural areas has been an area of increasing interest in recent years, in particular since the inception of Defra in 2001 (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, 2003), and while there is still relatively sparse evidence for comparison of different types of settlement, differences between urban and rural areas have already been identified.

Looking at raw attainment scores, pupils living in rural areas tend to have higher secondary school attainment than those living in urban areas, suggesting that there may be intrinsic benefits of living in rural areas for young people. However, there is widespread regional variation in rural attainment and pupils living in some affluent rural areas do not have the high attainment that would be expected.

The main aims of this project were to assess whether there are “true” differences in educational attainment at Key Stages 3 and 4 between rural and urban areas, once factors such as social position have been controlled. It also aimed to explore factors that particularly affect attainment in rural areas, and how these may vary across different types of rural settlement.

This report uses data from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE), currently managed by DCSF. LSYPE is a large-scale panel study tracking thousands of young people and their parents, from age 14 until their early 20s whose key role is to identify and improve understanding of the key factors affecting young people’s transition from compulsory education to further and higher education, training, employment and other outcomes.

  • Introduction

  • Literature Review

  • The LSYPE Dataset

  • Analysis Strategy

  • Results

  • Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendices