Research published today (Friday 20th September) from the Children’s Commission for England shows that last year 98,799 children in England - almost one in five (18 per cent) of all children leaving education at 18 - left without reaching Level 2 attainment (five GCSEs A*-C). This is a 24 per cent rise in the number of children leaving education without Level 2 over the last three years.
More than one in three children (37 per cent) receiving Free School Meals – 28,225 children – left without any substantive qualifications. Since 2015, the rate of children receiving Free School Meals leaving education without Level 2 attainment has risen at almost 3 times the rate of non-FSM children.
Children with Special Education Needs have been the worst affected with almost half (45 per cent) not reaching Level 2 attainment by the time they leave education.
The research also shows the attainment gap between children living in the least deprived and most deprived areas of England is widening.
Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, responding to Children’s Commissioner for England research reveals almost one in five children left education at 18 last year without basic qualifications, said:
“It is shocking that the number of children leaving education without a qualification has risen by nearly a quarter in the last three years. It is clear that this sudden rise has happened since the Tories came to power and imposed brutal cuts on education and support for families and children. The figures are particularly stark for children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds and with special educational needs and disabilities, yet more evidence that those who most need our support are those losing out.
“Yet not only has Boris Johnson failed to meet his pledge to reverse the Tory education cuts, he has also deliberately diverted desperately needed funding away from those schools with the most disadvantaged pupils, while shortfalls in SEND funding are set to continue for years.”