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Achievement and entitlement to free school meals

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  • Release date: 8 November 2018
  • Period covered: 2018
Annual data looking at pupil achievements at the Foundation Phase, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3, by entitlement to free school meals (FSM).

Key Stage 4 data by entitlement to free school meals will be published separately in December in the 'Examination results' report.

Changes to the Foundation Phase Areas of Learning

The revised Foundation Phase Areas of Learning (AoL) were introduced on a statutory basis from September 2015. This means that the cohort of children that started Reception in September 2015 were the first children to be formally assessed against the revised outcomes at the end of the Foundation Phase in the summer of 2018.

Comparisons of Foundation Phase outcomes with previous years should, therefore, be avoided as they are not measured on a comparable basis.

Changes to the publication of these statistics below national level

Following consultation on the publication of teacher assessments data, Foundation Phase, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 data will no longer be published at a school, local authority and consortia level. For this reason we also no longer publish the statistical model showing the relationship between free school meals and attainment.

Key points

  • The performance of pupils eligible for free school meals at Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 has generally improved in each year over the last 10 years for all indicators.
  • However, their performance is lower than their non eligible counterparts at all key stages and indicators.
  • The gap in performance has generally narrowed over the last 10 years at both Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3.
  • In 2018 the gap in performance for the Foundation Phase indicator was 18.2 percentage points.
  • In 2018 the gap in performance for the Core Subject Indicator was 14.2 percentage points at Key Stage 2 and 19.5 percentage points at Key Stage 3.
  • There is a strong link between achievement and the level of entitlement to free school meals in schools: as the level of free school meals entitlement increases, the level of achievement decreases.

Data linking

The free school meal eligibility status of pupils as at January is collected from schools in the Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC). The end of Foundation Phase, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 results of pupils are collected from schools in the National Data Collection in May to June each year. These datasets have been linked to produce the data presented here.

Due to the movement of pupils between the PLASC census date in January and the assessment period, full coverage of free school meal eligibility and attainment data are not available for all pupils. This is because pupils who leave or join the education system in Wales between the PLASC census day and the time of the assessments (May to June) are not included. Such pupils will either be missing free school meal data or an attainment level.

The matching rates are shown in the ‘Matched Rates’ table in the accompanying spreadsheet. More than 99 per cent of pupils in the attainment data have been successfully matched to the school census in each year at all stages.

Further data

A further breakdown of all the data shown in this release by gender and attainment level is available on StatsWales.

Key quality information can be found in 'Foundation phase outcomes and National Curriculum teacher assessment of core subjects at Key Stages 2 and 3', published on 8 August 2018 and 'Schools’ Census Results', published on 25 July 2018.

The coefficients used in the models that highlight the relationship between attainment at Foundation Phase, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 and eligibility for free school meals are available on request.

Contact

Statistician
Tel: 0300 025 5060
Email: school.stats@gov.wales

Media
Tel: 0300 025 8099

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