Poverty of opportunity?

  • A substantial proportion of children in England live in relative poverty: it's not uncommon in particular areas for half or more of pupils to be eligible for free school meals.
  • In general, more affluent families live closer to schools, but this varies a lot by school type. A family living next to a school rated 'Inadequate' by Ofsted is over 60% more likely to be poor than one living next to an 'Outstanding' school.
  • Just as importantly, this well-known 'house price' effect is far from the only factor keeping poorer children out of good schools. Even those poorer children who do live close to a high-performing school are less likely to end up going there. Indeed, the data presented here suggest that school selection is an even bigger driver of social sorting than the locations of family homes.
  • School types in which poorer pupils are under-represented after taking into account the level of poverty in their local areas include:
    • Grammar schools and single-sex secondary schools
    • Certain faith schools, particularly non-Christian faith schools and Roman Catholic schools
    • Schools rated 'Outstanding' by Ofsted
    • Secondary converter academies and primary free schools

Map 1: Proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals at any time during the past 6 years (2016)
Sources: Department for Education; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.

Map 2: Proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals at any time during the past 6 years (2016)
Sources: Department for Education; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.

Figure 1: Deprivation indices in the vicinities of schools (2016)
Sample sizes: All schools: 20,246. Primary schools: 17,094. Secondary schools: 3,435.
Notes: Mean values for postcodes within 1-5km of each school were calculated, then averaged across all mainstream state primary and secondary schools in England. Figures shown for 0km are the mean deprivation scores of the school postcodes themselves.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 2: Child deprivation in the vicinities of schools grouped by Ofsted rating (2016)
Sample sizes: Primary schools – Outstanding: 2,995. Good: 11,329. Requires improvement: 1,859. Inadequate: 137.
Secondary schools – Outstanding: 704. Good: 1,713. Requires improvement: 612. Inadequate: 129.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
  • Schools still under local authority (LA) control.
  • Converter academies: good schools that have chosen to become academies.
  • Free schools: new establishments than have been created as academies.
  • Sponsor-led academies: previously underperforming schools that have been compulsorily converted to academies as part of a turnaround programme.

Figure 3: Child deprivation in the vicinities of schools grouped by academy status (2016)
Sample sizes: Primary schools – Converters: 2,225. Free schools: 156. LA-controlled schools: 13,636. Sponsor-led: 1,077.
Secondary schools – Converters: 1,640. Free schools: 210. LA-controlled schools: 1,177. Sponsor-led: 618.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 4: Child deprivation in the vicinities of schools grouped by religious denomination (2016)
Sample sizes: Primary schools – C of E: 4,434. Catholic: 1,662. Other Christian: 108. Other faith: 59. None: 10,831.
Secondary schools – C of E: 211. Catholic: 320. Other Christian: 76. Other faith: 32. None: 2,796.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 5: Proportion of FSM pupils against local deprivation index for secondary schools (2016)
Notes: Local IDACI figures were calculated using a radius of 4km around each secondary school. For an explanation, please see below.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 6: Proportion of FSM pupils against local deprivation index for primary schools (2016)
Notes: Local IDACI figures were calculated using a radius of 2km around each primary school. For an explanation, please see below.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Figure 7: 'Lazarus Index' of schools grouped by Ofsted rating (2016)
Sample sizes: Secondary schools – Outstanding: 699. Good: 1,682. Requires improvement: 607. Inadequate: 129. All schools: 3,343
Secondary schools without grammar schools – Outstanding: 566. Good: 1,654. Requires improvement: 605. Inadequate: 129. All schools: 3,180
Primary schools – Outstanding: 2,979. Good: 11,243. Requires improvement: 1,842. Inadequate: 137. All schools: 16,808
Notes: The column for Lazarus Index value 2.0 represents all values greater than 1.8, including those greater than 2.0.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 8: 'Lazarus Index' of schools grouped by religious denomination (2016)
Sample sizes: Secondary schools – C of E: 210. Catholic: 315. Other Christian: 75. Other faith: 32. None: 2,711. All schools: 3,343
Secondary schools without grammar schools – C of E: 207. Catholic: 308. Other Christian: 65. Other faith: 32. None: 2,568. All schools: 3,180
Primary schools – C of E: 4,362. Catholic: 1,635. Other Christian: 105. Other faith: 58. None: 10,648. All schools: 16,808
Notes: The column for Lazarus Index value 2.0 represents all values greater than 1.8, including those greater than 2.0.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 9: Proportions of schools with unusually low and high proportions of poorer pupils, by Ofsted rating (2016)
Sample sizes: Secondary schools – Outstanding: 699. Good: 1,682. Requires improvement: 607. Inadequate: 129. All schools: 3,343
Secondary schools without grammar schools – Outstanding: 566. Good: 1,654. Requires improvement: 605. Inadequate: 129. All schools: 3,180
Primary schools – Outstanding: 2,979. Good: 11,243. Requires improvement: 1,842. Inadequate: 137. All schools: 16,808
Notes: Schools with 'unusually low' proportions of poor pupils are those with a Lazarus Index more than one standard deviation below the mean for England. 'Unusually high' schools are those with a Lazarus Index more than one standard deviation higher than the national mean. Calculations of local deprivation levels use a 4km radius around secondary schools and a 2km radius around primary schools.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 10: Proportions of schools with unusually low and high proportions of poorer pupils, by academy type (2016)
Sample sizes: Secondary schools – Converters: 1,407. Free schools: 198. LA schools: 1,154. Sponsor led: 584. All schools: 3,343
Secondary schools without grammar schools – Converters: 1,267. Free schools: 198. LA schools: 1,131. Sponsor led: 584. All schools: 3,180
Primary schools – Converters: 2,044. Free schools: 147. LA schools: 13,628. Sponsor led: 989. All schools: 16,808
Notes: Schools with 'unusually low' proportions of poor pupils are those with a Lazarus Index more than one standard deviation below the mean for England. 'Unusually high' schools are those with a Lazarus Index more than one standard deviation higher than the national mean. Calculations of local deprivation levels use a 4km radius around secondary schools and a 2km radius around primary schools.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 11: Proportions of schools with unusually low and high proportions of poorer pupils, by faith (2016)
Sample sizes: Secondary schools – Non-Christian: 32. Other Christian: 75. Roman Catholic: 301. Church of England: 210. Any faith: 632. No faith: 2,711. All schools: 3,343. Secondary schools without grammar schools – Non-Christian: 32. Other Christian: 65. Roman Catholic: 308. Church of England: 207. Any faith: 612. No faith: 2,568. All schools: 31,80. Primary schools – Non-Christian: 58. Other Christian: 105. Roman Catholic: 1,635. Church of England: 4,362. Any faith: 6,160. No faith: 10,648. All schools: 16,808
Notes: Schools with 'unusually low' proportions of poor pupils are those with a Lazarus Index more than one standard deviation below the mean for England. 'Unusually high' schools are those with a Lazarus Index more than one standard deviation higher than the national mean. Calculations of local deprivation levels use a 4km radius around secondary schools and a 2km radius around primary schools.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 12: Secondary schools with low/high proportions of poorer pupils, by selection policy and sex (2016)
Sample sizes: Secondary schools – Grammar: 163. Non-selective: 3,180. Boys' schools: 155. Girls' schools: 213. Mixed-sex: 2,975. All schools: 3,343
Secondary schools without grammar schools – Non-selective: 3,180. Boys' schools: 98. Girls' schools: 152. Mixed-sex: 2,930. All schools: 3,180
Notes: Schools with 'unusually low' proportions of poor pupils are those with a Lazarus Index more than one standard deviation below the mean for England. 'Unusually high' schools are those with a Lazarus Index more than one standard deviation higher than the national mean. Calculations of local deprivation levels use a 4km radius around each secondary school.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 13: Deprivation intake bias relative to local population by secondary school type (2016)
Sample sizes: All schools: 3,203. Grammar schools: 162. Non-selective schools: 3,041. Roman Catholic: 301. Any faith: 610. Church of England: 207. Other Christian: 73. Non-Christian faith: 29. No faith: 2,593. Single-sex: 371. Boys: 156. Girls: 215. Mixed-sex: 2,832. Ofsted 'Outstanding': 685. Ofsted 'Good': 1,635. Ofsted 'Requires improvement': 625. Ofsted 'Inadequate': 124. Converter academies: 1,355. Free schools: 161. Sponsor-led academies: 530. LA schools: 1,157. Large: 860. Medium-sized: 1,462. Small: 881.
Notes: Positive numbers indicate an intake bias in favour of poorer pupils while negative numbers indicate a bias against them. Small schools are those with fewer than 700 pupils; large schools are those with more than 1,200 pupils; medium-sized schools are somewhere in between. Calculations of local deprivation use a radius of 4km around each secondary school.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 14: Deprivation intake bias relative to local population by primary school type (2016)
Sample sizes: All schools: 16,291. Roman Catholic: 1,567. Any faith: 5,960. Church of England: 4,235. Other Christian: 102. Non-Christian faith: 56. No faith: 10,331. Ofsted 'Outstanding': 2,914. Ofsted 'Good': 10,904. Ofsted 'Requires improvement': 1,938. Ofsted 'Inadequate': 139. Converter academies: 1,667. Free schools: 119. Sponsor-led academies: 810. LA schools: 13,695. Large: 5,378. Medium-sized: 5,477. Small: 5,436.
Notes: Positive numbers indicate an intake bias in favour of poorer pupils while negative numbers indicate a bias against them. Small schools are those with fewer than 200 pupils; large schools are those with more than 320 pupils; medium-sized schools are somewhere in between. Calculations of local deprivation use a radius of 2km around each primary school.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 15: Access to disadvantaged pupils by secondary school type (2016*)
* Data for proportions of previously low-attaining pupils are from 2015.
Notes: The size of each dot represents the number of pupils in that group of schools; hover over each one to view relevant data. School deprivation figures based on pupils' eligibility for free school meals, with bands defined by the DfE. Local deprivation figures based on the mean IDACI of postcodes within a 4km radius of each school, with schools then divided into three roughly equally sized groups. Small schools have fewer than 700 pupils, large ones have more than 1,200. A small proportion of low attainers means less than 12% and a high proportion means more than 18%. Urban, suburban and rural groups use ONS rural-urban categories applied to school postcodes.
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 16: Access to disadvantaged pupils by primary school type (2016*)
* Data for proportions of previously low-attaining pupils are from 2015.
Notes: The size of each dot represents the number of pupils in that group of schools; hover over each one to view relevant data. Local deprivation figures based on the mean IDACI of postcodes within a 2km radius of each school. Small schools have fewer than 200 pupils, large ones have more than 320. For further details see the footnote to Figure 15
Sources: Department for Education; Department for Communities and Local Government; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash analysis.
  1. An average of 15.5% of families living in the postcodes of 'Outstanding' secondary schools are poor while the comparable figure for 'Inadequate' schools is 25.3%. This represents an increase of 9.8 percentage points, or 63%.
  2. Disclosure: My eldest child attends a grammar school and my younger child will be joining the same school in September.
  3. In fact the distribution of Lazarus Index scores isn't quite symmetrical because values below zero are impossible while higher values of well above 2 can and do occur. For this reason we would expect slightly more high values than low values. This is indeed what we see, but the effect is a relatively small one.
  4. In some cases hyperlocal demographic effects might also influence outcomes – for example where popular schools have very small effective catchment areas that are much more affluent than surrounding neighbourhoods. However, we find that reducing the radius of the local area analysed to 1km or less makes relatively little difference to the results, so this cannot explain most of the effects seen.

 

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