Gap between pupils must be narrowed, county council says

14:27 01 January 2013

THE gap in exam success between school pupils who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who aren’t needs to be narrowed, Cambridgeshire County Council says.

In a report to members of the children and young people scrutiny committee, council officers said they had come up with an action plan to help close the gap, with just 24.7 per cent of pupils receiving free school meals achieving five GCSEs at grades A*-C.

By comparison, 61.1 per cent of pupils not receiving free school meals achieved five good GCSEs in 2011, an attainment gap of 36.6 per cent which prompted councillors to order a review.

The report also noted that while the number of Cambridgeshire’s disadvantaged pupils is just half that of the average nationally, only 26 per cent of them achieved A*-C grades in both English and mathematics, compared to 34 per cent nationally.

Earlier this month the review was presented to the committee, with several recommendations made as to how the gap can be narrowed in the future.

Ian Lambert, democratic services manager, said in his report that: “an increased focus will be placed on monitoring pupil progress as measures need to be taken to accelerate the progress being made by children in vulnerable groups.”

His report recommended better pastoral care, involvement of parents, better short-term goals, improved curriculum and extra-curricular activities.

Mr Lambert noted: “Discussion of the performance, achievements and targets of free school meal pupils needs to be a specific focus of staff meetings so that there is a school-wide recognition of the school’s responsibility to all its pupils, not just those who do well.”

More discussions between council officers and councillors will take place over the coming weeks before a plan of how to address the gap is put in place in the new year.

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