Poor Primary School Pupils Increasingly Left Behind By Peers

Official data reveals that bright primary school children who qualify for free school meals (FSM) are being left behind by their peers, with the attainment gap in literacy, writing and maths widening between the two groups. The key stage 2 national tests in England, commonly known as Sats, taken by 11-year-olds revealed that children not eligible for FSM were outpacing their disadvantaged peers, with more achieving better results than before. New data for the national phonics check conducted by five and six-year-olds in Year 1 also indicated that pupils on FSM were not keeping up, securing a lower pass percentage than in 2016. Figures from Ucas supported the findings, indicating that students receiving FSM were only 50% as likely to attend university as those from better-off backgrounds. Although this report is an embarrassment to the government, some primary schools achieved outstanding results despite the high proportions of their pupils receiving FSM. For example, the entire cohort at Evelyn Street Community primary school in Warrington, Cheshire, 45% of whom received FSM, met national standards whilst 55% of them were judged at a higher level in maths, writing and reading. Nevertheless, the national figures show that better-off pupils are outpacing disadvantaged pupils in achieving high standards. The proportion of pupils on FSM achieving the highest levels in maths grew from 9% last year to 13% this year, but the proportion of other pupils went up from 20% to 27%, thereby widening the gap between the two groups to 14 percentage points. The gap in high achievement in reading has similarly stretched to 15 percentage points between the two groups this year, compared with 13 last year.


  • tenleylancaster

    Tenley Lancaster is a 34-year-old educational blogger and student. She enjoys writing about topics related to education, including but not limited to student motivation, learning styles, and effective study techniques. Tenley has also written for various websites and magazines, and is currently working on her first book. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.