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education policy – widening the gap?

4 September 2013

A report from the University of Durham has indicated that the current trend towards greater diversification of the school system and greater choice is actually increased segregation rather than bridging the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' which is a stated policy aim for the Government. The report indicates that where an area has a greater diversity of provision such as convertor and traditional academies faith, foundation, grammar and independent schools instead of a majority of LA schools, segregation will arise from those schools generally having a percentage of children on free schools meals which is lower than the national average. The report’s conclusions mirror the evidence from Sweden where diversification also resulted in greater segregation.

The report cannot make pleasant reading for the DfE given the focus on social equality. However, if other policies result in better outcomes for children across a greater number of schools, whatever their classification, this can only result in the gap being narrowed. Therefore, it may be necessary to keep a watching brief on this to measure the impact over a longer period.

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