New EEF research points way to closing disadvantage gap by 38% in primary schools

EEF Families of Schools Database helps schools to find and learn from others like them that are closing the attainment gap in reading, writing and maths.

The national disadvantage gap could be significantly reduced if schools are able to help their disadvantaged pupils reach at least the average performance achieved by their 30 most similar schools – that’s according to new research published today by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) as it re-launches its Families of Schools Database, designed as a starting point for schools aiming to close their disadvantage gap.

The new version of the EEF’s Families of Schools Database includes 19,575 primary and secondary schools with the latest available attainment data. This free, online database can help schools understand more about their disadvantage gaps – the difference in attainment between pupils from disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged backgrounds – by enabling easier comparisons with other, similar schools across the country.

Every school in England has been placed into ‘families’ for the EEF by FFT Education Datalab, based on the characteristics of pupils who attend them, such as the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM). The EEF hopes schools will use this as a springboard to learn from, and collaborate with, the most successful schools in their ‘family’ of similar schools.

families-of-schools

The potential for individual schools to work towards closing the national disadvantage gap is revealed by analysis of the data commissioned by the EEF. The research looked at what would happen if schools performed as well as the average in their Families of Schools Database ‘family’:

  • The primary school disadvantage gap could be closed by 38% (reduced from the current 18.5 percentage points to 11.4 percentage points). This is equivalent to an additional 13,500 disadvantaged 11 year-olds achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.
  • The secondary school disadvantage gap could be closed by 6% (reduced from the current 11.2 points to 10.5 points). This would mean the average Attainment 8 score for disadvantaged pupils increasing from 38.3 to 40.0.

Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), said:

“Across the country, hundreds of schools – of every type, in every kind of community – demonstrate that it is possible to support disadvantaged children to achieve fantastic results. What we need now is to improve the consistency in our system, narrowing the gap between schools and for children.

“Using the EEF’s Families of Schools Database to find other, similar schools achieving more for their disadvantage pupils offers an essential pathway to collaboration.

“Improving the consistency of our system may not sound glamorous, but would make a huge difference. If every primary school raised the attainment of its disadvantaged pupils to at least the average of the other schools in its family, the gap nationally would be reduced by over a third.”