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Poverty campaigners attack postcode lottery of GCSEs for poor children; POLITICS.

England's poorest students' chances of GCSE success are a "postcode lottery", it was claimed today.

A table compiled for the campaign group End Child Poverty, a coalition of organisations, reveals massive discrepancies in the GCSE attainment of the poorest pupils in different education authorities across the country.

It shows that in some areas, fewer than one in four teenagers from deprived backgrounds are achieving good GCSEs (grades A*-C).

Bottom of the table is Nottinghamshire, where just 21.7 per cent of youngsters on free school meals reached five good grades, compared with 59 per cent who are not.

In south Gloucestershire the percentage of children on free school meals achieving this standard is 21.9 per cent and in Milton Keynes it is 22 per cent.

At the top end of the table is Kensington and Chelsea, where 59 per cent of children on free school meals get five good grades, followed by Tower Hamlets (54.5 per cent) and Rutland (53.3 per cent). Eight of the top 10 authorities are in London, and overall, London was the best region for children living in poverty to go to school in, with an average of 44.6 per cent achieving five A* to C grades.

The worst was the East Midlands, with an average of 28.7 per cent.

End Child Poverty said London's success was due to the large funding boosts the capital has received in recent years, and initiatives such as the London Challenge which have helped improve standards.

In a statement, the group said the GCSE chances of the poorest pupils were a postcode lottery.

Jason Strelitz, UK poverty spokesman for Save the Children and a member of End Child Poverty, said: "In areas like London, where national government has invested in improving education for the poorest, they have succeeded.

In other areas, the GCSE attainment of the poorest students remains alarmingly low."
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 20, 2008
Words:317
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