Do Education Investment Areas make sense?

"The UK Government will drive further school improvement in England through 55 new Education Investment Areas (EIAs) in places where educational attainment is currently weakest."

Figure 1: Mean values of disadvantage and performance metrics for EIA and non-EIA schools
Note: Includes all mainstream state primary and secondary schools in England for which data are available.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 2: Distribution of disadvantage and performance metrics across EIA and non-EIA schools
Note: Includes all mainstream state primary and secondary schools in England for which data are available. Bins are labelled with central values. For example, the Attainment 8 bin labelled '35' contains all values from 32.5 to 37.4, inclusive.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
  • Leasowes High School, which is located in Dudley (an EIA) has 21% of its pupils on free school meals, while Four Dwellings Academy, located just over a mile away, over the border in Birmingham (not an EIA), has an FSM rate of 57%. Both have similar local deprivation rates and both have been rated 'Good' by Ofsted. On the face of things, it seems hard to argue that the former needs more support than the latter.
  • Similarly, Sandwell Academy, which, appropriately enough, is located in Sandwell (an EIA) has 26% of pupils who are eligible for the Pupil Premium and is rated 'Outstanding', while Holyhead School, which is in Birmingham (again, not an EIA) has 60% of such pupils and is rated 'Good'. Both have broadly similar local deprivation rates, though Holyhead's is slightly higher. If we were going to pick one of these for greater support it would probably be Holyhead.
  • On the academic front, St Joseph's College an 'Outstanding' school in Stoke-on-Trent (an EIA), achieved a very high average Attainment 8 score of 61 the last time GCSEs were sat in 2019. Meanwhile, Clayton Hall Academy less than a mile away, but in Staffordshire (not an EIA), is rated 'Requires Improvement' and obtained an Attainment 8 score of 47. This is perfectly respectable, but obviously much lower than its supposedly disadvantaged neighbour.
  • Even more starkly, Levenshulme High School in Manchester (an EIA) is rated 'Outstanding' and has a Progress 8 score of 1.14 (which is to say that its GCSE pupils overperformed by more than one grade per subject), while Reddish Vale High School less than 2 miles away in Stockport (not at EIA) is rated 'Inadequate' and has a Progress 8 score of -0.56.
  • Among primary schools, Pennyman Primary Academy, located in Middlesborough (an EIA), got 59% of its pupils to expected levels of attainment by age 11. This is a bit below average but certainly not terrible in the scheme of things, especially given its high proportion of poor families (59% of pupils are eligible for FSM). Consistent with this, academic progress, which takes into account pupils' starting points, is good. A few hundred metres down the road, Saint Gabriel's Catholic Primary School, which is in Redcar and Cleveland (not an EIA), has lower in-school deprivation but got only 30% of its 11-year-olds to expected levels of attainment. Both schools are rated 'Good' by Ofsted.

 

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