The long shadow of deprivation: Differences in opportunities across England’ is a new report by the IFS and the Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities, written for the Social Mobility Commission. The study looks at how the earnings outcomes of children from different backgrounds vary across local authorities, and finds that selection can be a factor. Thanet in selective Kent is highlighted as the area in the South East with the worst social mobility, with many other selective authorities showing large pay gaps between sons from disadvantaged backgrounds and their counterparts from more affluent families who grew up in the same area.
The report points out that there are large differences in social mobility and opportunities around the country, based on many different factors including the local labour market, but it is telling that no selective authority ranks well in the report’s maps and tables.
The report says, “Areas with a higher proportion of grammar schools and more-segregated schools, have the largest educational achievement gaps. Sons from affluent families in these areas achieve much higher GCSE results than sons from deprived families in the same area.” The study highlights the advantage of socially mixed schools in comprehensive areas with ‘the lowest education gaps.’ “In these areas, pupils from more and less well-off backgrounds are more likely to attend the same schools.”
The report points out that local authorities with large educational inequalities tend to have greater school segregation in terms of both achievement and socio-economic status, compared with areas with more equal educational achievement. They are also more likely to have grammar schools. The report shows that 7 of the 10 local authorities with the largest education gaps have grammar schools (only Lewes, Windsor and Oxford do not). Southend-on-Sea and Tunbridge Wells, also grammar school areas, just miss the list of the 10 areas with the largest gaps, yet still have some of the largest differences in educational achievement in the country.
The report can be read in full here.