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Poorer children falling behind in GCSEs

PUBLISHED: 10:30 31 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:30 01 August 2010

A CHARITY has criticised schools in the region after claiming that children from poor backgrounds are falling behind their better-off classmates in GCSE exams.

A CHARITY has criticised schools in the region after claiming that children from poor backgrounds are falling behind their better-off classmates in GCSE exams.

Save the Children claims the latest GCSE results reveal only 23pc of the poorest children in Suffolk managed five good GCSE passes compared to 51pc of better-off pupils - a gap of 28pc.

In Essex, the gap is 32pc, with just 20pc of poor pupils achieving five passes compared to 52pc of their wealthier classmates.

Fergus Drake, Save the Children's director of UK programmes, said: “It is unacceptable that poverty continues to be a key determining factor in how well a child will do at school. Coming from a poorer home shouldn't reduce your chances of getting decent GCSE results yet at every stage of school, children from poorer backgrounds do far worse then their better-off classmates.”

The charity also says it has found a stark link between levels of deprivation at home and a child's academic achievement, with those receiving free school meals far less likely to achieve five A*-C grades than their wealthier classmates.

The organisation is also calling for governments to channel much more funding to the poorest pupils, and specialised programmes to help parents support their child's learning.

Mr Drake said: “Poverty kills childhood and severely damages prospects. Many of the UK's poorest children live in sub-standard housing, have fewer books and educational games at home, lower aspirations and less confidence in their own ability to achieve their dreams.

“They often have families who desperately want them to do well at school but who - partly due to their own negative educational experiences - lack the confidence to support their children's learning and development.”

No-one from Suffolk or Essex County Councils was available to comment.

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