The performance of EAL pupils at GCSE in 2018: the headlines

The national GCSE data (it is the 2018 data despite the DfE’s mistake on the page heading) and individual secondary school outcomes, including the performance of EAL pupils,  were released in January.

These data give us lots of detailed information about the attainment and progress of EAL pupils at both national and school level. This brief analysis, however, comes with my usual health warning: data is much better at helping us ask thoughtful questions than it is at giving definitive answers.

The 2008 Attainment 8 figures show EAL pupils (47.2) outperforming English first language pupils (46.5) with the gap between the two groups rising from 0.5 in 2017 to 0.7 in 2018. Once again Pakistani pupils are the only large EAL group not outperforming English first language pupils, though the gap has closed from 1.3 to 0.8. The Other White group is now performing ahead of English first language pupils and Chinese and Indian pupils have extended their lead over English first language pupils.

EAL pupils Progress 8 score, at 0.49, is a long way ahead of that of English first language pupils (-0.10), but fractionally down on 2017’s 0.50, a change accounted for by a decline in EAL boys’ Progress 8 from 0.29 to 0.25 while girls remain at 0.72. This fall in Progress 8 is almost entirely among groups with the largest gender gaps: Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black African. These groups of boys have also seen substantial drops in the Progress 8 score, the largest being Black African boys, down from 0.15 to 0.04. For Black boys this drop is not just an EAL issue. Even more shockingly, Black Caribbean boys are down from-0.47 to -0.59.  The progress of Pakistani boys remains a concern with their first ever minus Progress 8 figure, -0.02 down from 0.03 in 2017-  though my next post (which will seek to identify the best boys’ school in England) has  some good news on this issue.

Turning to schools, we see huge differences in EAL Progress 8 scores.  If we exclude special schools and schools with a GCSE  cohort containing  fewer than 30 EAL learners, there are a total of  830 schools. It is not surprising that about half of the schools are above the national score of 0.5 and about half below. However, when we look at the concentration of EAL pupils in schools we find that 62% of those with under 25% of the cohort having EAL exceeded the national EAL score. Among schools in 25%-50% EAL band 55% managed the same feat and for the schools above 50% EAL the figure at or above the EAL national score drops to 44%. Before the jumping to conclusion that lower EAL density leads to better outcomes, I think we need to remember that high density of EAL pupils is generally associated with poorer areas and low density with richer areas, though, as my next paragraph shows, that’s not an iron rule.

When we look at individual schools we can see that the full range is from 2.06 (Wembley Technology College) to -1.14 (Balby Carr Community Academy). When we dig a bit deeper, Wembley Technology College’s cohort was 82% and Balby Carr Community Academy’s just 19% EAL. Perhaps having more EAL pupils can be an advantage. When we look at the free school meals figures (Wembley Technology College 27% and Balby Carr Community Academy 44 %) we are reminded that the data just help us to ask good questions.

If you would like to know where your school sits in the EAL league table, but don’t want to wade through a very large DfE spreadsheet, then just get in touch through the form on the right.

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