Whitty, G and Anders, J (2017) '‘Closing the achievement gap’ in English cities and towns in the twenty-first century.' In: Pink, W.T and Noblit, G.W, eds. Second international handbook of urban education. Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 1079-1101. ISBN 9783319403175

Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-40317-5_58


A key focus in English work on ‘narrowing the gap’ in recent years has been persistent ‘social class’ differences in educational achievement. The policy response to these issues has frequently been targeted at schools (or groups of schools) in urban areas, given the generally higher levels of disadvantage in these locations. It is important to address the academic attainment gap in schools in that student performance during the compulsory phase of education has significant implications for access to higher education and the labour market. In this chapter we explore a number of these policies, the particular challenges about urban education they sought to address, and their successes and failures. There is a particular focus on the much-lauded ‘London Challenge’, held up as a flagship policy for driving improvements in urban areas. While there is some evidence of change as a result of this multi-faceted approach to education reform, it seems that at least some of the improvements being driven by other changes going on in London at the time, such as significant demographic shifts. We conclude that while there have been some notable policy successes, a stubborn achievement gap remains, particularly at the higher end of the attainment distribution and question the extent to which schools alone, rather than society more broadly, can be expected to close these gaps.

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section
Keywords: achievement gap, social class, education reform, urban education
Divisions: Institute for Education
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2017 12:48
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2017 12:48
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)