Leeds and Wakefield ‘among worst’ for attainment gaps

leeds and Wakefield have among the biggest attainment gaps in the country in the test results being achieved by poor pupils and those who are better off.

The latest figures show a 30 per cent difference in the level of Wakefield pupils on free school meals getting to the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, compared with those not on free school meals.

In Leeds, the gap was 26 per cent. Both areas were ranked in the bottom 10 nationally for the difference between poorer 11-year-old pupils and their wealthier peers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Education bosses at both authorities have vowed to tackle the situation.

Leeds Council’s lead member for children’s services, Coun Jane Dowson, said: “Narrowing the gap in attainment, especially for those entitled to free school meals is a top priority for us. In Leeds we are dedicated to helping all children and young people achieve, regardless of their background, and have a number of programmes in place to help children and young people who are at risk of falling behind their peers.

“However, Leeds is has a very diverse society, where the gap between those with the highest incomes and those with the lowest is significant – in fact we have one of the biggest gaps in the country.”

Wakefield Council’s corporate director for children and young people, John Wilson, said: “We are continuing to work closely with all primary schools and academies, to improve outcomes for children and young families.

“We want to make sure children are achieving the highest possible standards in vital core educational skills and we are determined to close gaps in outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. We are investing in improving our primary school attainment levels, this includes our two priority programmes which have been identified to continue to drive forward improvements with an emphasis on closing the gap in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged groups.”

Nationally the Department for Education said the attainment gap had narrowed by one per cent in reading, writing and maths tests sat by 11-year-olds.

Schools Minister David Laws said: “It is encouraging to see that the attainment gap continues to narrow between the worst off and their peers but there is more work to be done.

“The figures show a number of local authorities with unacceptable levels of attainment for poorer pupils. Schools in these areas must do better.

“We are supporting teachers by increasing the pupil premium for primary schools by £400 to £1,300 per pupil from next year so they have the resources they need.”