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No magic bullet in London schools
- success just years of steady improvements in quality, new research shows.


New work, published as part of the Social Policy in a Cold Climate programme, concludes that the improved performance largely reflects gradual improvements in school quality over time. Improvements in primary schools played a major role in explaining later improvements in secondary schools.  In 2002 less than a quarter (22%) of children on free school meals in inner London obtained five or more A*–C grades at GCSE or their equivalent (including English and Maths). In 2013, this had risen to almost half (48%). Gains were much smaller among disadvantaged children outside London (17%) to (26%).


The new work establishes that the “London effect” for poor children began in the mid-1990s – well-before many of the high-profile policies in secondary schools previously credited with London’s success, such as the London Challenge, Teach First, and the growth of academies.  It’s possible that recent changes reflect London’s status as an economic powerhouse. To check this the researchers follow a group of children born around the year 2000 from preschool to age 11. This shows that disadvantaged pupils in London are not ahead at age 5, but instead make faster progress once they get to school compared to their peers outside the capital.   


This research is authored by Jo Blanden (School of Economics, University of Surrey) Ellen Greaves (Institute for Fiscal Studies), Paul Gregg (Department of Social Policy, Bath University), Lindsey Macmillan (Institute of Education, University College London) and Luke Sibieta (Institute for Fiscal Studies) and is part of the Social Policy in a Cold Climate programme of work, funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Nuffield Foundation and Trust for London through the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE), LSE. Co-funding from the ESRC-funded Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy at the Institute for Fiscal Studies is gratefully acknowledged.

News Posted: 30 September 2015      [Back to the Top]

LSE Housing and Communities Research
Sustainable Homes Blog: High Rise Hope Revisited

In October 2014, LSE Housing & Communities carried out a detailed study of the Edward Woods High Rise estate in Hammersmith & Fulham to find out how major retrofit of tower blocks affected the community. The report provoked a lot of interest and estate retrofits elsewhere - now Sustainable Homes have blogged about the report here.
News Posted: 28 July 2015      [Back to the Top]

Downward mobility, opportunity hoarding and the 'glass floor'
Abigail McKnight's new report for the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission

new report Downward mobility, opportunity hoarding and the ‘glass floor by Abigail McKnight has been published by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. It examines the evidence for a cohort of British children born in 1970 in terms of the relationship between family background, childhood cognitive skills and adult success in the labour market. In particular it considers the role of parents’ education, later childhood performance in reading and maths, social and emotional skills in childhood, type of secondary school attended and whether or not individuals go on to attain a degree.

The research finds that, on average, children from lower income families or those with less advantaged social class backgrounds do not perform as well in a series of cognitive tests taken at age 5 as children from higher income families or those from advantaged social class backgrounds. Children from more advantaged family backgrounds are more likely to have high earnings in later adult life and are more likely to be in a “top job”. This is not simply due to different levels of cognitive ability as it holds within attainment groups as well as over the complete distribution. Analysis is focused on a group of initially high attaining children and a group of initially low attaining children and follows their progress through to labour market outcomes at age 42.

The research identifies a number of factors that account for the fact that children from more affluent family backgrounds are more likely to be highly successful in the labour market as adults:  highly educated parents; higher maths skills age 10; stronger social and emotional skills age 10; greater likelihood of attending a Grammar or a Private secondary school; more likely to attain a degree level qualification.  The hoarding of opportunities by better-off families is likely to contribute to the reduced success of initially high attaining children from less advantaged families converting early potential into later labour market success.

Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institute, whose own research focusing on American social mobility has been influential, has written an interesting blog about this report.

As part of our Social Policy in a Cold Climate programme (SPCC) we have produced a summary of recent research on social mobility and education attainment based on research by Jo Blanden, Claire Crawford, Ellen Greaves, Paul Gregg, Lindsey Macmillan, Abigail McKnight, Luke Sibieta and Anna Vignoles.

A new working paper in this theme from the SPCC programme is now available: When and Why do Initially High Attaining Poor Children Fall Behind? by Claire Crawford, Lindsey Macmillan and Anna Vignoles.

More research on this theme is forthcoming in Autumn 2015. If you’d like to receive email updates sign up here.

News Posted: 17 July 2015      [Back to the Top]

New child poverty measures could allow government to shirk its responsibilities
British politics and policy at LSE blog


Abandoning the child poverty targets will damage the interests of disadvantaged children, and represents a significant step back in attempts to make Britain a fairer society, argue Kitty Stewart, Tania Burchardt, John Hills and Polly Vizard.

Last week the Conservative Government announced that it would be abandoning the indicators and targets in the Child Poverty Act (passed with cross-party support in 2010), and replacing them with a set of broader measures of life chances. It will introduce a statutory duty to report on measures of worklessness and GCSE attainment, and it will develop a range of other indicators “to measure progress against the root causes of poverty” – which it identifies as family breakdown, problem debt, and drug and alcohol dependency. Income based poverty measures are not merely being downgraded within this new approach; they are being dropped entirely. Crucially, the relevant data will still be published (at least for now). It is vital that the data continue to be published – and on time – so that others can hold government accountable. But the Conservatives have made it clear that they no longer consider income poverty part of their concern.
Continue reading here

News Posted: 06 July 2015      [Back to the Top]

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