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CASE Social Exclusion Seminars

Against the Odds: Why expecting schools to overcome disadvantage is doomed to failure

Sally Riodan (Education Observatory, University of Wolverhampton), joint with Michael Jopling


Wednesday 19 May 2021 16:30 - 18:00

This event will be held ONLINE. Please register here


Since 2011 the government has invested £21bn into improving the academic achievements of children facing socio-economic disadvantage. The ‘pupil premium’ was intended to reduce the attainment gap between students from lower-income homes and their more affluent peers. We conducted Against the Odds, a two-year, mixed-methods study into schools’ use of the pupil premium and report here on some of its findings. In particular, we discuss the differences between students’ and teachers’ attitudes regarding social mobility. We present evidence that that high-quality teaching won’t reduce the attainment gap, and reflect on the challenges faced by schools as they attempt to use evidence-based methods to tackle social inequality. We suggest that although the pupil premium has been the largest experiment of its kind in England, schools are no closer to understanding how to reduce the attainment gap than they were ten years ago.