Big Attainment gap between those pupils eligible for Free School Meals and those not
New figures deposited in Parliament highlight the significant attainment gap between those pupils who are eligible for free school meals and those who are not. Attainment is measured by the number of pupils gaining A*-C Grades in GCSE subjects. In 2010 77,419 pupils were eligible for FSM compared to 78,087 in 2006 In English, in 2006, 31.2% of FSM pupils met the benchmark, moving up to 42.9% in 2010. However for non-FSM pupils the 2006 figure was 61% moving to 69.8% in 2010. In Maths, in 2006, 27.1% of FSM pupils achieved the benchmark, improving to 39.6% in 2010, but this compares to 56% in 2006 and 65.9% in 2010 respectively for pupils not on FSM. The attainment gap between FSM and non-FSM pupils has not actually narrowed over the period 2006-10. Alarmingly for linguists, just 14 % of FSM pupils met the grade in modern languages in 2006, with this percentage actually dropping in 2010 to 13.5% The Education Secretary Michael Gove, when he was in opposition, through a series of parliamentary questions, established that those pupils on Free School Meals have not appeared to benefit much from the significant investment in education over the period of the last Government. Which is why he has made disadvantaged pupils his major priority and why he has introduced such policies as the Pupil Premium.So to some extent, at least, his policies will be judged on whether they improve the performance of pupils eligible for FSM, and whether the gap between them and non-FSM pupils closes over the next two or three years.

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