The Government Child Poverty strategy 2014 – 2017 identified six key family characteristics which make it harder for some children to do well at school: “a poor home environment, underdeveloped 'character' skills (e.g. social skills, self-esteem, resilience, a parent being ill, experiencing ill health themselves, having parents with low qualifications and low family income."
How well do the children achieve academically?
The children we support have some, if not all, of the characteristics which make it harder for them to do well at school, and so they are at much greater risk of poor educational achievement. This is likely to lead to them having low paid or no jobs in adulthood, and therefore bringing up their own children in poverty, with all or some of the same associated issues. A large proportion of the children we support come from workless families, for reasons such as disability and illness, caring responsibilities, or through having low skill levels and qualifications.
We do not believe that the schools we work with necessarily provide a better education than the schools which would be available to these children locally, but what boarding does is reduce some of the barriers to learning that are created through the children's challenging home circumstances. The stability, pastoral care and support that children receive in boarding, helps them to access their education enabling them to reach their full potential.
Looking back over the past three years, we are able to make comparisons to national benchmarks in relation to GCSE attainment. Most of the young people we support meet the government's definition of disadvantage yet the proportion of them achieving 5 GCSE's A – C including English and Maths exceeds the national benchmarks for children not considered to be disadvantaged.
2012 – 2013 Cohort
In this year, 22 Reedham-supported young people sat their GCSE's. Nationally, the attainment of disadvantaged pupils was 40.9% achieving at least 5 A*- C GCSEs (or equivalent) grades including English and mathematics compared to 67.8% of all other pupils. In comparison, 82% of the Reedham-supported cohort achieved at least 5 GCSE's A* - C (or equivalent) grades including English and Mathematics, which is well above the national average for all pupils not considered to be disadvantaged.
2013 – 2014 Cohort
In this year, 23 Reedham-supported young people sat their GCSE's. Nationally, the attainment of disadvantaged pupils in this year group was 36.5% achieving at least 5 A*- C GCSEs (or equivalent) grades including English and mathematics compared to 64.0% of all other pupils.. In comparison, 68% of the Reedham supported cohort achieved at least 5 GCSE's A* - C (or equivalent) grades including English and Mathematics, which is above the national average for all pupils not considered to be disadvantaged.
2014 – 2015 Cohort
The national benchmarks for pupils by characteristics are not likely to be available until early in 2016, although they are likely to be relatively similar to previous years. 16 young people sat their GCSE's this year, which is a much smaller cohort than the previous two years.
NOTE: Definition of government's measure of 'disadvantage' in relation to educational attainment.
Prior to 2012, disadvantaged pupils were defined as those pupils known to be eligible for free school meals (FSM) at the time of the spring school census or who were looked after children. From 2012, the definition has been widened to include pupils eligible for free school meals at any point in the last 6 years. In 2014 the measure is slightly different again, although FSM over the past 6 years is still a measure. For this reason it is not possible to compare national benchmarks between years as the methodology for defining 'disadvantage' is different.
1) SFR/05/2014: GCSE and equivalent attainment by pupil characteristics, 2013 to 2013 (revised), issued 23 January 2014
2) SFR 06/2014: GCSE and equivalent attainment by pupil characteristics, 2013 to 2014 (revised), issued 29 January 2015