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Ethnicity not the only factor in London school success: London is a global benchmark

23 February 2015

New research published by CfBT Education Trust today in School Improvement in London: A Global Perspective, reveals that ethnicity is not the only factor in the success story for London schools.

New statistics released in the report show that all major ethnic groups in inner London improved between 2005 and 2013 at a greater rate than those elsewhere in the country.
Our new analysis of the performance of schools in 2014 (using the Department for Education figures on GCSE attainment), adds further weight to these findings. It highlights that ten years ago, white pupils in inner London performed significantly worse (over four percentage points) than those in the rest of England, yet today they are performing significantly better by almost the same margin.
Tony McAleavy, director of research and development at CfBT Education Trust said:  'We are confident from both our findings today and our latest research report that London school improvement cannot be explained simply in terms of ethnicity. Our latest research shows that in 2005/06 all major ethnic groups were performing either at or below the national average for England; by 2013 all these groups were outperforming the national average. The gap has increased further in 2014. Regardless of students' ethnic background, on average a pupil in inner London performed substantially worse than one elsewhere in the country in 2006, but by 2014 performed substantially better. We think that this is linked to improved school effectiveness in the capital. London is setting a global benchmark for learning and success.'
There was no single cause of the London improvement. However, there were five key inter-related school improvement interventions that were critical to London’s success:
  • The London Challenge: a successful government-funded school improvement programme for target schools;
  • Improved performance by some, but not all, of the local authorities;
  • The academies programme: new providers were allowed to take management control of previously failing schools
  • Teach First: an innovative graduate teacher recruitment and training programme with a focus on the most disadvantaged schools.
  • The role of leadership in bringing about transformational change and sustained and consistent political support.

We shared these latest findings at a private ministerial event where we welcomed some of the most influential global leaders and policy makers from around the world to enable London's lessons to be replicated on an international scale.

CfBT's chief executive, Steve Munby, adds:  'Through these findings, CfBT has established a remarkable "London story" that can be heralded as a global benchmark of success, which other large cities across the world can learn from. It is clear that leadership has played a key role in transforming London's schools and, given our expertise in this area, we are sharing our knowledge of key school improvement factors with ministers and policy makers from around the world.
'We are delighted that senior policy figures and influencers from around the globe have welcomed this new research so warmly. This will enable other nations to begin to capitalise on these findings.'

Click here to download School improvement in London: a global perspective (opens in a new window).