How can Trusts support disadvantaged students more effectively at KS3?

There have been claims that Trusts should adopt a narrow curriculum for disadvantaged students because it allows students to concentrate on the basics. That argument, however, is misguided.

Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, points out that according to research from the Sutton Trust the opposite is in fact the case. “It might seem tempting to narrow the curriculum at Key Stage 3 to help students focus on the basics. But the evidence doesn’t support this decision. In fact, a recent study found that pupils studying a broad curriculum at secondary school were more likely to achieve good GCSEs in English and maths and also achieved higher average grades across the board.”

Despite this, Ofsted has warned that an increasing number of schools appear to be narrowing the curriculum and teaching a GCSE syllabus as soon as pupils arrive in Year 7 rather than Year 10.  According to our exclusive poll of teachers and parents, there is little doubt as to why. Over nine in ten teachers and three-quarters of parents blamed the pressure placed on schools to deliver good exam results.

As a result, student wellbeing, academic performance and behaviour suffer. And the most disadvantaged children face the prospect of losing out most.

As Hilary Fine, Head of Product at GL Assessment, points out: “Disadvantaged children are further disadvantaged if they are subjected to a narrow curriculum shorn of the rich, cultural capital better off children tend to accumulate outside of school. Their only exposure to education in the broadest sense is at school. Take it away and they become doubly disadvantaged – they’re unlikely to access it elsewhere and academic performance is unlikely to improve.”   

To discover how smart assessment can help disadvantaged children, download the full report.