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Academic achievement and entitlement to free school meals

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  • Release date: 22 January 2014
  • Period covered: 2013
  • Next update: 28 January 2015
An annual report using pupil attainment data matched to pupil characteristics information from the annual school census to produce data on performance gaps at Key Stages 1 to 4.

Key points

  • The performance of pupils eligible for free school meals is lower than their non eligible counterparts at all key stages and in all performance measures.
  • Looking at the core subject indicator (see definitions), the gap in performance has generally narrowed over the last six years at Key Stages 2 and 3. However at Key Stage 4, the gap in performance in the Level 2 threshold including a GCSE A*-C in English/Welsh and maths had widened every year to 2010 before narrowing in the past three years.
  • The gap in performance increases as pupils get older.
  • There is a strong link between achievement and the level of entitlement to free school meals: as the level of FSM entitlement increases, the level of achievement decreases.


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