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Deprived neighbourhoods harm GCSE performance

Children who grow up in deprived neighbourhoods perform worse in their GCSEs according to new research from Dr Emily McDool at the University of Sheffield.

The research shows that children who live in deprived neighbourhoods for at least three years are four percentage points less likely to attain at least five GCSEs at grades A* to C and six percentage points less likely to attain five GCSE at A* to C including English and maths, when compared to children who live in less deprived areas.

This adverse effect of living in a deprived area is much greater for children whose parents are better educated (to at least post-16 level), relative to children whose parents are less educated. Children with more educated parents therefore have a much better chance of gaining the baseline GCSE outcomes if they lived in a non-deprived area.

For both children with educated and less educated parents, neighbourhood deprivation is more harmful to the attainment of five GCSEs A*-C including English and maths.

While this research identifies a negative impact of neighbourhood deprivation, it also highlights that it is not only children from deprived and less educated families who fail to reach their potential within deprived neighbourhoods; it is even more of a problem for the children of educated parents.

Educational policies which target children based upon their socio-economic status alone may therefore fail to reach those who are the most likely to benefit.

Further details can be found at:

McDool, E (2017) Neighbourhood Effects on Educational Attainment: Does Family Background Influence the Relationship?Department of Economics, University of Sheffield. SERPS 2017002

If you’re interested in contacting the authors of this research then please contact them using or +44 114 222 5151