London schools do better ‘because of immigration’

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Girls celebrate while opening their GCSE results at Stoke Newington school

London’s children do better at GCSEs than the rest of the country because more of them come from ethnic minorities, according to research.

The term ‘the London Effect’ has been used to describe the way that kids in the capital outdo their provincial counterparts, and now a new study suggests this is because the capital is so diverse. The study, by the Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO) at Bristol University, says that ethnic minority pupils tend to achieve higher GCSE grades than white British pupils, and this has boosted London’s overall exam score. The study analysed 2013 GCSE data for all pupils in state secondary schools in England. It looked at their eight best subjects and also compared how pupils fared at the end of primary school, to see how much progress they made. The findings show that pupils in London state schools score around eight GCSE grade points higher than those in the rest of the country, relative to their results at age 11. This is the difference between gaining eight A grades compared to eight Bs, or eight Cs compared to eight Ds. But once pupils’ ethnic background is taken into account, this “London Effect” in pupil progress disappears, the study suggests. White British pupils make up a third (34%) of Year 11 (15 and 16-year-olds) in London, but in the rest of England they account for around 84% of this age group. Report author Professor Simon Burgess said: “We know that ethnic minority pupils score more highly in GCSEs relative to their prior attainment than white British pupils. London simply has a lot more of these high-achieving pupils and so has a higher average GCSE score than the rest of the country. The study concludes that the findings can be seen as a “story of aspiration and ambition”. “There is nothing inherently different about the ability and performance of pupils from different ethnic backgrounds,” it says. “But the children of immigrants typically have high aspirations and ambitions, and place greater hopes in the education system than the locals do.”

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