Building solid foundations

Our aim is to narrow the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils in literacy and numeracy, giving all children the strongest possible start to their schooling.

Why this is an issue

Too few children from disadvantaged backgrounds are reaching the expected standard in literacy and numeracy by the end of key stage 2 – with reading and maths the areas of greatest concern.

In 2016, 43% of all pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds reached the expected standard in reading and only 6% reached greater depth of understanding – compared to 53% and 10% nationally. In the same year, of the 3,760 pupils who had a phonics screening check, around 20% did not reach the expected standard – nearly 25% of those were eligible for free school meals.

In maths, outcomes for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds were also below the national average. In 2016, only 51% reached the expected standard and 6% reached greater depth of understanding, compared to 58% and 9% nationally.

There is a strong relationship between schools that are below the minimum the Government expects all schools to achieve and those situated in areas with the highest levels of deprivation and the greatest numbers of disadvantaged pupils.

Simply driving standards up across the entire borough may not address the gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged children. Pupils eligible for free school meals still have comparatively worse attainment even when they attend good schools.

The most important school-level factor in raising attainment for disadvantaged pupils is ensuring that high quality teaching and strong leadership are in place in the schools with the highest numbers of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. This means supporting the best teachers and leaders to work in schools serving the most disadvantaged and deprived communities so that we narrow the gap, remove education inequality and ensure all pupils have the same opportunity to succeed.

What we will do

We will:

  • Improve the quality of maths teaching and learning to achieve better outcomes for disadvantaged pupils
  • Create a new literacy campaign that will draw on evidence based good practice
  • Ensure schools receive help from an education adviser
  • Use the Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund to provide primary school leaders and teachers with quality professional development
  • Commission a bespoke professional development programme that will use robust evidence and research to support leaders of teaching and learning to embed a better leadership model
  • Ensure 2 more primary maths leads commence training as teaching for mastery specialists to support other schools in implementing this approach
  • Appoint a new education adviser who will work with 25 primary schools to improve their access to school improvement programmes and additional support

Our targets

By 2020/21:

  • 75% of all pupils will achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and maths combined at the end of key stage 2.
  • The attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils who achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and maths combined at the end of key stage 2 will narrow by 6%