The statistics, which have been welcomed by Education Minister, Huw Lewis show that pupils eligible for free school meals are consistently improving at every stage of education and against every indicator.
They also show that the attainment gap between deprived learners and their peers has narrowed at Key Stage 2 & 3 over the last 4 years and at Key Stage 4 this year.
While such progress is very positive, the Minister has said there is more work to be done to break down the stubborn link between deprivation and lower levels of attainment.
The Welsh Government has today also published the latest evaluation of its Pupil Deprivation Grant – a programme which sees additional funding being allocated to schools for looked after children and those pupils eligible for free school meals.
The report shows that:
- Teachers believe the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG) is making a real difference to target pupils and are reporting significant improvements in English and Maths grades as a result
- Schools are using increasingly sophisticated systems to ensure the PDG reaches the pupils it is designed to help
- Schools are using the grant to increase the number and skills of teaching assistants who can implement interventions that will narrow the attainment gap
- At key stage 2 the rates of improvement of pupils eligible for free school meals in English, Welsh, Science and Maths is nearly double that of other pupils
- Improvement in attendance of pupils eligible for free school means has accelerated since the introduction of the PDG
The Minister said:
“Breaking that stubborn link between poverty and low attainment has always been a priority of mine I simply do not accept that a young person’s success in life should be dictated by the wealth of their family.
“I am very encouraged by these statistics and the evaluation report which show that our policies to narrow the gap and drive up the performance of pupils from less well off families are making a real and tangible difference.
“Whilst progress is being made, the gap is still far too wide. We must keep working to break it down so we can ensure all our learners, including those from less well off families are given every opportunity to succeed and fulfil their potential in life.”