Challenge for the new Education Endowment Foundation laid bare

Research for the new Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has revealed the extent of the attainment gap between poor children in the most challenging schools and the rest of the pupil population.

11th July 2011

Research for the new Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has revealed the extent of the attainment gap between poor children in the most challenging schools and the rest of the pupil population.

The 165,000 pupils that the EEF will target are half as likely as their better-off peers to reach national standards at primary level (40% v 81%), and one third as likely to reach national standards at secondary level (18% v 61%).

White British pupils face particular challenges, accounting for 70% of EEF target pupils, but being half as likely to achieve expected standards in their GCSEs as Bangladeshi students, for example.

Worryingly, the results of the poorest pupils in primary schools not meeting government targets have got worse over the last three years. Two fifths of these pupils reached national standards in 2010, a drop of nearly 13% compared with the performance of pupils from those schools in 2008 when nearly half (45%) met the standards. This downward trend contrasts markedly with that for pupils in other primary schools where almost four fifths reached national benchmarks last year – and standards are rising.

The Education Endowment Foundation has been set up by the Sutton Trust as lead charity in partnership with Impetus to support projects to raise the attainment of pupils eligible for free school meals in schools underneath government floor standards. It will launch on 12 July and will be open to applications from charities, schools, local authorities and other not-for-profit organisations. The EEF is initially funded by £125 million from the Department for Education and, together with income from the endowment and fundraising, intends to spend over £200 million.

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the EEF and the Sutton Trust, said: "This research is a stark reminder of the inequalities facing poor pupils in this country. The children and young people the EEF aims to benefit deserve better - and we hope that by identifying, developing and evaluating projects which are cost effective and scalable, we can start to have a lasting impact on their lives, as well as influencing the way government and schools spend their billions. Too little is known about what works in raising the achievement of the poorest pupils and it is incumbent on us, as custodians of the EEF and the unprecedented opportunity it represents, to help address this."

Daniela Barone Soares, Chief Executive of Impetus and a trustee of the new EEF, commented: "Through the EEF, we will be looking to support projects that will make a lasting difference in the life chances of the most disadvantaged pupils. Our focus will be on building a knowledge base of those interventions that have the greatest impact, and building the capability and capacity of the sector to ensure that what works can reach those children who most need the support. That dual focus, on identifying the most impactful interventions and ensuring the infrastructure is in place to deliver them, is what we believe will enable the Education Endowment Fund to drive major change in educational attainment and in many children’s lives."