In our recent second report into long-term disadvantage in secondary schools, we committed to looking in more detail at the location of the schools we identified. The paper presents that analysis but also goes further by looking at more data about the communities these schools are in. Given the eligibility criteria for Free School Meals then we know that there will be increased levels of unemployment and/or low paid work, but through using the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) we get a richer picture of other challenges such as health and crime, all which impact on children’s wellbeing and therefore on their schooling.
Clearly, the type of analysis we are conducting here bears some resemblance to the rationale behind Opportunity Areas. The Department for Education (DfE) made it clear at the inception of the Opportunity Areas programme in 2016 that they aimed to increase social mobility through focusing national and local resources. When identifying these Opportunity Areas, the DfE used “a range of indicators” contained within the Social Mobility Index and the Achieving Excellence Areas Index; these indicators focus primarily on education-based factors with some additional employment criteria. Our analysis corrects for how the department implemented the policy intent at the time with no further opportunity areas created after those Rt Hon Justine Greening oversaw as Secretary of State. We then apply a measure of geographic density of schools with a high proportion of pupils from a long-term disadvantaged background to help determine at what level intervention might be justified.