This is because GCSE qualifications are the gateway to A-Levels, apprenticeships and employment. Without them, young people’s choices and prospects are more limited.
That’s why we supported our sister charity the Education Endowment Foundation as a founding partner of the National Tutoring Programme. There is extensive evidence showing the impact of tutoring to support pupils who have fallen behind.
However, access to tutoring is often limited to the schools and parents that can most afford it. It’s estimated that around 80% of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds currently don’t have access to quality tuition. The National Tutoring Programme aims to support schools in addressing this, and with substantial financial support from government will reach millions of young people in the coming years.
But education doesn’t stop at 16.
Our Life After School: Confronting the crisis research revealed that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who failed their English and maths GCSEs the first time around were unlikely to achieve these grades by age 19.
Six out of ten young people from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t have a Level 2 qualification (GSCE or equivalent) in maths and English by age 19, compared to only three in ten of their better-off peers. And the attainment gap is expected to widen drastically as the full impact of COVID-19 and school closures is felt.
There has been some progress – but the government could do better. Our education system runs until the age of 18, and yet funding drops at age 16, including the necessary Pupil Premium funding that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed.
We support a single, consistent funding system, and the extension of Pupil Premium funding to the age of 18 so young people get the succeed they need in their education, for all of their education.
Read our full position in our 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review submission.