Cumbria Attainment Gap Needs Urgent Action - Farron
The latest figures reveal that the attainment gap between rich and poor students in Cumbria is significantly worse than the national average. South Lakeland MP Tim Farron has called for the government to take serious action to tackle underachievement by students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The figures compare the percentage of pupils that are qualified to Level 2, the equivalent of a GCSE grade A*-C, including English and Maths, based on whether or not they are eligible for Free School Meals.
For students not eligible for Free School Meals, 71.2% of non-Free School Meal pupils achieve this level of qualification by age 19, which is broadly in line with the national average of 71.7%.
However, there is a sharp distinction when it comes to pupils on Free School Meals. In Cumbria, just 36% of pupils on Free School Meals achieve this level of qualification by 19, compared to over 45% nationally.
Tim said: "These figures provide further proof for what we already knew - far more needs to be done to improve the life chances of those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"Under the coalition, the Lib Dems pushed hard to introduce the pupil premium, to direct extra funding towards those who needed more help.
"However, it is clear that there is still a long way to go. It is particularly concerning that the attainment gap is so much worse here in Cumbria than elsewhere, and shows the need for the government to look at tackling deprivation in rural areas as well as just in large cities. The government must take serious action to ensure that disadvantaged students are not left behind."