Disadvantaged bright pupils found to be less likely to study A Levels than rich counterparts

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Oxford University’s Department of Education has discovered that pupils who are clever but disadvantaged are almost half as likely to achieve three A Levels than their rich peers.

The study, commissioned by the Sutton Trust which strives for educational equality, tracked 3000 children from the age of three and classed students as disadvantaged based on their eligibility to receive free school meals. They found that only 35% of those who were deemed highly able at age 11 progressed to achieve three A Levels compared to 60% of those who were financially better off with equal academic ability.

Life success chances for the poorer pupils are further compromised by them failing to choose the ‘facilitating’ A levels most likely to secure them a place in the top Universities. Only 33% of the disadvantaged pupils elected to study these subjects, such as Maths or English, while 58% of the richer pupils chose them at A Level. Thereby improving their further education and career prospects.

Regarding this Sir Peter Lampl, chair of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation has said ‘’it is vital that schools advise their students on the right subject choices at GCSE and A-level so as to maximise their potential.”

The report provided a number of factors considered to impact upon chances of good A Level results. Among these are reading for pleasure, attending educational trips, a supportive home environment and completing homework daily from a young age.

Analysis of the data discovered that A Level students who carried out two to three hours of homework every day were nine times more likely to gain three A-levels than those who did none.

Emphasis was also placed on the importance of a good nursery school that would nurture their minds from a young age. An outstanding Ofsted report was cited as improving pupils learning success as well as regular feedback and a relationship of mutual trust between student and teacher.

The research highlights that schools need to place greater emphasis on pupils that demonstrate ability and provide more opportunities for them to participate in enrichment activities. This can be through ‘gifted and talented programmes’ or ‘enrichment vouchers’ to fund out of school educational trips.

These factors are likely to boost intelligence and ultimately the pupil’s chances of successfully progressing to higher education.


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