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CASE Social Exclusion Seminars

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

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

Wednesday 19 May 2021 16:30 - 18:00

This event will take place online.

About this event

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.

Listen to a recording of the event:

These seminars are held on Wednesdays in term time at 12:00-13:00

Seminars this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @CASE_LSE for updates.

This seminar series is organised by:

Dr Tammy Campbell, Email:

Laura Lane, Email:

For further information and papers, when available, please contact:

Cheryl Conner, Email:, Tel: +44(0)20-7955-6562.