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Underperforming Children

Volume 654: debated on Monday 4 February 2019

7. What steps he is taking to identify children who perform well at primary level but underperform at higher levels of education. (908958)

The Department, of course, measures the progress that pupils make between the end of primary education and their GCSEs, and those data can help schools to identify where and when to put additional support in place.

This is nothing short of a national scandal and a national disgrace, because we all know where we lose these talented children. We lose them in this transition period, and who do we lose? Poorer children from deprived backgrounds. When will we have a big beast on the Government Benches who will see this as a national disgrace and do something about it?

I assume the hon. Gentleman means the transition between years 6 and 7, to which I acknowledge we have not paid enough attention—both before and after 2010. That is one of the reasons why we are looking at this in the Opportunity North East programme, and in other piloting opportunities, but it is not the only thing to look at. I am pleased to be able to say that the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers has shrunk both at key stage 2 and key stage 4, but there is much still to do.

Commiserations for yesterday’s football, Mr Speaker; I am sorry.

The recent University of Bristol report shows that 40% of so-called underperforming secondary schools would actually be out of category if the progress 8 measure were more rounded. That is in addition to the Education Policy Institute study that found a very strong correlation between the number of deprived children and a school’s Ofsted rating. Given the high-stakes accountability regime in schools, is it not about time we had a much more profound and deeper understanding of what makes a good school, instead of just hammering, time and again, the most challenging schools that are doing a very good job in difficult circumstances?

Not at all. The progress 8 measure is materially better than the main measure in place during the last Labour Government, the “five-plus C-plus” measure at GCSE. Progress 8 measures the progress of all children, and it is right that we have high expectations for all children. Progress 8 is a much better measure.