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GCSE and A-Level Top Grades

Volume 700: debated on Monday 6 September 2021

14. What assessment he has made of the variation in the proportion of top grades awarded for GCSEs and A-levels between (a) private, (b) free and (c) other state schools in 2021. (903329)

We saw success this year for young people from all types of school who were aiming for top grades. Every year there are variations between types of school; as I said earlier, before the pandemic we were closing attainment gaps and we will redouble our efforts through our catch-up plans and broader work to level up.

On this Government’s watch the attainment gap between the richest and poorest students has rocketed. Since 2019 alone, GCSE students on free school meals have fallen behind their peers by almost a third. This adversely affects pupils in my constituency of Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough, who are significantly more likely to receive free school meals. When will the Minister ditch this empty rhetoric and step up to the plate to resolve the fundamental underlying issues?

We totally understand the challenges many young people have faced during the pandemic. Up until the pandemic we had closed the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers by 13% in primary school and 9% in secondary school, and the hon. Lady ought to look back at the Labour record we inherited in 2010. We accept, however, the challenges faced by young people during the pandemic, which is why we are committing £3 billion to catch-up funding and introducing a tuition revolution with 100 million hours of small group tuition for young people, because this Government will do everything we can to ensure that children can catch up from any lost education they have suffered during the pandemic.