Charity blasts Scandalous' education gap in Essex

PUBLISHED: 10:00 03 April 2010 | UPDATED: 07:36 30 May 2010

DESPITE continued political promises to close it, the gap between rich and poor children doing well at school remains wide open in local classrooms - a charity has claimed.

DESPITE continued political promises to close it, the gap between rich and poor children doing well at school remains wide open in local classrooms - a charity has claimed.

Save the Children has found a stark link between levels of deprivation at home and a child's academic achievement in the classroom

The charity says that the latest GCSE results reveal that only 20 per cent of the poorest children in Essex managed five good GCSE passes compared to 52 per cent of their better-off classmates - a gap of 32 per cent.

Those receiving free school meals were also far less likely to achieve five A*- C grades than their wealthier classmates.

The gap is even more shocking when comparing the results of the poorest children with the grades scored in some private schools, warns the charity. The latest exam result breakdowns show 175 boys from Eton College scoring three As compared to just 75 of the poorest boys across the entire country.

Save the Children's director of UK Programmes, Fergus Drake, said: "Poverty kills childhood and severely damages prospects. Many of the UK's poorest children live in substandard housing, have fewer books and educational games at home, lower aspirations and less confidence in their own ability to achieve their dreams.

"They often have families who desperately want them to do well at school but who - partly due to their own negative educational experiences - lack the confidence to support their children's learning.

"Without this support, poorer children don't get the head-start and advantages enjoyed by their better-off classmates."

Save the Children is calling on people in Essex to write to their local candidates, to ask them to address this gap in local children's education.

Mr Drake added: "It is unacceptable that poverty continues to be a key determining factor in how well a child will do at school.

"Coming from a poorer home shouldn't reduce your chances of getting decent GCSE results yet at every stage of school children from poorer backgrounds do far worse then their better off classmates."

Save the Children wants increasing the success of our poorest children and breaking the link between poverty and low achievement to be a top priority for schools and the Government.

The organisation is also calling for governments to channel much more funding to the poorest pupils and specialised programmes to help parents support their child's learning and development.

Save the Children is calling for the next phase in tackling the attainment gap to reach the poorest children wherever they live and wherever they go to school - spreading the benefits of these programmes more widely.

For more information visit savethechildren.org.uk/endchildpoverty

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