Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Falling educational inequality

There’s a very good piece in the Guardian today about educational inequality. I had a go at fisking Michael Gove’s attack on the government’s “unfair” policies last week, but people with far more factual knowledge than me have done a better job: Dr Ruth Lupton and Dr Natalie Heath of the Institute of Education.

"Gove is wrong about the direction of inequalities," says Lupton. "Data from the Youth Cohort Study shows that the gap in five A*-C attainment in GCSEs between highest and lowest social classes was 40 percentage points in 1989, rising to 49 in 1998 and down to 44 by 2004. So you could argue Labour is just undoing the damage that the Tories did.

"There is a good deal of other recently published data that shows that, on key indicators, the social class gap has reduced slightly since 2004. Taken as a whole, Gove's document shows extreme carelessness or disregard for truth and accuracy. He is right that inequalities are too high, but we need a proper debate about this, and what to do about it. If he wants to be taken seriously, he should withdraw this document and re-enter the debate when he has a better grasp of the evidence."

Lupton's principal concerns are about Gove's treatment of Sats scores. Far from the gap widening between pupils eligible for [free school meals] and the rest, she says, the reverse is actually true. While Gove says the gap in English has risen to 21 percentage points, Lupton says it has fallen from 26 points in 2002 to 21 in 2007. Similarly, while Gove says the gap has widened from 16 to 20 for maths and from 10 to 15 for science, Lupton claims it has narrowed from 17 to 15 for science and from 23 to 20 in maths.

Lupton and Heath’s full response is here.

2 comments:

A Very Public Sociologist said...

Tories having problems with truth and accuracy? Surely not!

Btw, I've added you to my blogroll.

Tom Freeman said...

Why thank you. Think there ought to be a link going t'other way too!