The “London Effect” – why are FSM pupils in London doing better?

A new report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) for the Social Mobility and Poverty Commission has been looking at the reasons behind the so-called “London effect” – why pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in London fare better than those in the rest of England.

They found that 54% of inner London pupils eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) achieved 5+ GCSEs at A* to C grade including English and Maths, compared to averages of 30-35% across the rest of England. Why such a difference?

Inner London has higher levels of deprivation and greater numbers of children from ethnic minority backgrounds, which the IFS believe might have some impact.

However, they also found that the attainment of pupils at primary school was a significant predictor of GCSE success, indicating that improved primary education is very important.

The IFS also found higher levels of participation in further education, which may be linked to better achievement during compulsory school years.

One of the report’s authors, Luke Sibieta, described the higher level and improved performance of disadvantaged pupils in secondary schools in London over the past decade as a “remarkable success story.”

This report shows that a disadvantaged background need not necessarily lead to underachievement and lack of engagement with school, something that Bridge Builders believes in strongly.

Helen Robinson