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Devastating impact of moving school revealed

Press Release

  • Education

Moving schools multiple times has a devastating impact on pupil's grades and the numbers of children affected are set to grow, according to a wide-ranging report published by the RSA, Between the Cracks.

Between the Cracks showed that when compared to their peers, the attainment of pupils who move school in-year is markedly lower. Only 27 percent of pupils who move schools three times or more during their secondary school career achieve 5 A* to C GCSE's, compared to the national average of 60 percent. Results in English & maths for children at Key Stage 2 dropped 12 percent following one in year move, 17 percent for two moves and 25 percent for three moves.

View the Between the Cracks report

The report found that during 2011-12, there were a total of 300,000 in year admissions. This means that for every ten pupils who moved from primary to secondary school in September 2011, another six moved schools during the school year. But the RSA warned that the volume of in-year admissions may be about to increase as a result of changes to housing benefit and an increase in the number of young people in care.

The RSA discovered that children moving school in-year already face significant disadvantage: 46 percent are eligible for the pupil premium (compared with national average of 25 percent) and 29 percent have a special need recorded from the previous year. The report also showed that significant numbers are missing out large parts of their schooling in any one year, with 20,000 pupils not placed in a school after an absence of a full school term.

In-year moves are more likely to be clustered in lower attaining schools and in more disadvantaged localities, the report found. Examining data from the National Pupil Database, the RSA discovered that a child, who changes school in year due to moving house, is three times as likely to move to a low performing secondary school as move to a high performing one.

Commenting on the report, RSA Director of Education, Joe Hallgarten said:

"Our research found that in year moves are highly disruptive to children, badly impacting on the social and neighbourhood relationships that can support their schooling. Pupils who move in-year often can't access high performing schools that have no spare places. And unfortunately it's the poor who suffer most – with pupils who move in-year coming from families with more challenging home circumstances. It's likely that the current in-year admissions process reinforces patterns of segregation, in what is already one of the most socially segregated school systems in the world. Our report makes a start at understanding how the current system of in-year admissions might better serve the most disadvantaged pupils and make a vital contribution towards closing the attainment gap."

The report recommended that:

  • Local authorities should provide better information for parents and families aimed at discouraging unnecessary moves.

  • Funding formulae should offer appropriate financial rewards to schools to admit pupils in year.

  • Schools and local authorities should try to share and adopt best practices in voluntary co-ordination and Fair Access Protocols to ensure that the most vulnerable undersubscribed schools are not forced to admit an excessive number of in-year movers.

  • Local authorities should publish the length of time for which individual children are out of school, together with an assessment of the reasons for delay, providing names of schools which have declined to accept particular pupils.

  • Local authorities, the Benefits Agency and other bodies' policies and practices should take into account the impact of housing moves on children's education.

  • A survey 92 local authorities included in the report, revealed a high level of concern with the issue of in-year admissions, with 70 percent either concerned or very concerned. Three quarters of respondents raised serious concerns over the fairness of the 2012 admissions code, and were worried about maintaining a 'spirit of collective responsibility' for vulnerable children.

View the Between the Cracks report

Notes to editors

1. For more information contact RSA Head of Media, Luke Robinson, on 020 7451 6893 or 07799 737 970 or luke.robinson@rsa.org.uk.

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