London schooling: lessons from the capital

16 December 2011

School pupils from all backgrounds are performing better in the capital than in every other region of the country, a new report by CentreForum finds.

The report 'London schooling: lessons from the capital' measures the academic attainment of pupils with similar characteristics (the same income background, ethnicity, language and gender) across London and the rest of England.

It concludes that London's pupils are achieving better-than-expected results at most ages and levels of attainment.

After crunching the numbers, CentreForum found that pupils in the capital at Key Stage 1 (ages 5-7) are performing no better or worse than those in other regions of England, but then start to pull away from their non-London counterparts at Key Stage 2 (7-11), with the results gap remaining at Key Stage 4 (14-16).

The report gives added weight to the findings of the Department for Education which, on Thursday, revealed that five out of the top eight local authorities* for attainment at primary school level are within Greater London.

Report author Gill Wyness said:

"Our analysis suggests it is London's schools that are responsible for the relatively strong performance of the city's pupils."

"Three local authorities that deserve a special mention are Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets. The level of 'overachievement' in these boroughs is very high, with many pupils getting better-than-predicted GCSE marks."

"There seems to be a positive London effect."

*Hammersmith & Fulham, Havering, Lewisham, Newham and Greenwich



For a breakdown of pupil performance in your region, please call the CentreForum office on 020 7340 1160.

The report 'London schooling: lessons from the capital' can be downloaded.

Key findings from the report

  • There are striking differences in the academic attainment of school pupils in England depending on their individual circumstances. Pupils from the most deprived areas nationwide are significantly less likely to achieve the expected outcome measures at school than those from richer households. Similarly there are striking gaps in performance between pupils from different ethnic backgrounds, with Chinese and Asian pupils tending to outperform black and white British pupils.
  • On first inspection, pupils in London perform no better (or worse) than those in other major regions of England.
  • However, pupils in London are more likely to be among the poorest in England and Wales. They are also more likely to be from non white ethnic backgrounds and less likely to speak English as their first language.
  • Taking these factors into account, London outcomes should be much worse. They are not. In fact, pupils from London perform better than those from the rest of the country at most ages and levels of attainment.  
  • London's pupils perform no better or worse than those in other major regions of England at Key Stage 1, the first year of compulsory schooling, but then start to pull away from their non-London counterparts at Key Stage 2, with the attainment gap remaining at Key Stage 4. This is evidence that London schools may be responsible for the relatively good performance of the city's pupils.
  • There are many "unsung heroes" in London. Local authorities that have much to be proud of include Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets which are responsible for educating some of the poorest children in the country, and where pupils perform significantly better than one might expect.

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