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Poverty and poor transport links 'act in concert' for secondary schools

09 March 2020
Among secondary schools with high proportions of poor pupils that are are also more than 30 minutes away from the nearest major employment hub, two-thirds (19 out of 29) are rated `Requires Improvement` (RI) or `Inadequate`
Among secondary schools with high proportions of poor pupils that are are also more than 30 minutes away from the nearest major employment hub, two-thirds (19 out of 29) are rated `Requires Improvement` (RI) or `Inadequate`

 

There is a striking overlap between places in England with slow public transport and places with struggling secondary schools, say researchers, as reported by the BBC. Instead of only looking at education data, researchers compared schools using journey times from the Department for Transport. They found clusters of bad transport and underachieving schools in places such as Norfolk and north-east England. Even in richer areas, poor transport seemed linked to lower school results.

Researchers SchoolDash used Government data for its analysis. Author Timo Hannay says: 'We have written before about the impact of poverty on schools and also studied geographical trends in the education system. This post will combine those two aspects by looking at the effects of physical isolation and economic deprivation on school effectiveness, as judged by Ofsted ratings. In summary, we find that:'

  • Among primary schools, geographical isolation has relatively little impact on school effectiveness; poverty is a much bigger driver.

  • For secondary schools, however, poverty and isolation seem to act in concert. Among the relatively small number of secondary schools with high levels of both, two-thirds are rated 'Requires Improvement' or 'Inadequate'.

  • The areas in which these schools are located also showed high levels of support for Brexit and large swings towards the Conservatives in the 2019 general election, suggesting that their improvement may be a matter not only of education policy but also national politics.

The story for secondary schools is striking, say the researchers. Even at low deprivation levels, more isolated schools are substantially more likely to under-perform and less likely to be judged 'Outstanding'. At medium and high deprivation levels, the overall proportions of under-performing schools rise substantially and the effects of geographical isolation are also pronounced, creating a proverbial double whammy. Among secondary schools with high proportions of poor pupils that are are also more than 30 minutes away from the nearest major employment hub, two-thirds (19 out of 29) are rated 'Requires Improvement' (RI) or 'Inadequate'; only one – Gladesmore Community School in Tottenham – is rated 'Outstanding'.

Read the full report online – Outliers: On geographically isolated schools

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