1st Edition

Making Schools Better for Disadvantaged Students The International Implications of Evidence on Effective School Funding

    238 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    *2023 BERA Educational Research Book of the Year*

    Around the world, governments, charities, and other bodies are concerned with improving education, especially for the lowest-attaining and most disadvantaged students. Making Schools Better for Disadvantaged Students presents detailed research into how poverty affects student segregation and underachievement in schools. It contains the first ever large-scale evaluation of how funding can best be used to lower the poverty attainment gap for disadvantaged students.

    Drawing on a wealth of empirical research from England, India, and Pakistan as well as worldwide reviews of relevant studies, the book presents high-quality evidence on the impact of funding policy initiatives, such as the Pupil Premium funding in England, and the many variations of similar schemes worldwide. It analyses education measures which have been put in place and discusses ways in which these can be used efficiently and fairly to allocate funding to students who are persistently at risk of underachievement. The book is unique in synthesising many forms of evidence from around the world and finding a definition of educational disadvantage that can be used fairly across different contexts.

    Offering significant implications for ways to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged students, the book will be essential reading for students of education policy, sociology of education and educational practices, and all researchers, school leaders, and policy-makers working in this area.


    List of contents

    List of tables

    List of figures

    Glossary of acronyms and key terms used in the book



    Chapter 1 – Global interest in narrowing the attainment gap

    Chapter 2 – Why do we care about educational gaps?



    Chapter 3 – Review of evidence on targeted funding to improve attendance and participation

    Chapter 4 – Improving school attendance in other ways

    Chapter 5 – The importance of attendance at school in India and Pakistan



    Chapter 6 – Using targeted funding to improve attainment

    Chapter 7 – Studies of improving attainment in other ways



    Chapter 8 – The Pupil Premium funding policy in England

    Chapter 9 – Problems in assessing the impact of Pupil Premium policy

    Chapter 10 - Evaluating Pupil Premium Policy through consideration of long-term disadvantage



    Chapter 11 – Changes in socio-economic segregation between schools

    Chapter 12 – Changes in the attainment gap

    Chapter 13 – The character and geography of long-term disadvantage

    Chapter 14 – Combining the results on Pupil Premium funding



    Chapter 15 – What have we learnt and what are the next tasks?





    Stephen Gorard is Professor of Education and Public Policy at Durham University, UK.

    Beng Huat See is Professor of Education Research at Durham University, UK.

    Nadia Siddiqui is Associate Professor of Education at Durham University, UK.

    Together they form the Directorial team for the Durham University Evidence Centre for Education (DECE).


    "Growing up as a child on an inner-city Midlands’ council estate in the 1970s and 80s, I was in receipt of free school meals. Little did I realise then that over 40 years later, in one of the advanced nations in the world, I would be reading a book about what can be done to make schools better for disadvantaged students. This superb work by Professors Gorard, See and Siddiqui builds on years of their research in this field and clearly highlights the impact on the education outcomes, especially at Key Stage 4, of children who are raised in persistent poverty. The authors provide compelling evidence for a less segregated approach to schooling and the positive impact this would have on reducing the disadvantage gap. For me, this is where policymakers’ efforts need to be focused as opposed to criticising schools who serve wonderful but persistently disadvantaged communities."

    - Darren Hankey, Principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education, UK

    "This book is original and presents innovative analyses of large-scale and longitudinal trajectories from the National Pupil Data (NPD) in England. It also provides evidence on the impact of funding in tackling educational disadvantage. I agree with the editors that ‘overcoming socioeconomic disadvantage in education has been an important policy area in which international and local government have made huge investments over the last two decades.’ However, there is little evidence-based research to support funding policy that policy makers and school improvement practitioner can use at national and international level. In my view the book “Making Schools Better for Disadvantaged Students” will fill the gap in the field at present. […] I would argue that at present there is lack of good books on tackling educational disadvantaged that are based on strong empirical evidence which may be used by academics, students, policy makers and practitioners in the area of disadvantaged and school funding. Some of the available research in the field are dispersed all over the literature…. Drawing on the various policy initiatives, this book provides comprehensive empirical evidence on education which I have not came across in the field with my 27 years working in the education sector. This is welcome news."

    - Feyisa Demie, Head of Research at Lambeth LA and Honorary Professor, University of Durham, UK.

    "For an association like ours, whose mission is for Quebec to have a fair education system by eliminating the school segregation caused by subsidized private schools and selective public schools, this book is vital. Many academics are reluctant to draw policy conclusions from their research, but this is certainly not the case with Making Schools Better for Disadvantaged Students. The authors’ recommendations are clear and set out in jargon-free language. For those of us whose job it is to convince the general public and elected representatives of the importance of fairness in education, the evidence contained in this book provides powerful arguments. Hopefully, it will help us to finally put our education system (and society as a whole) on the road to equity."

    Stéphane Vigneault, coordinator, École ensemble | ecoleensemble.com

    "As Chair of Comprehensive Future I hear on a daily basis about the unfairness which riddles our school system through academic selection and poverty. The segregation created by the viciously competitive 11-plus test has little to do with ‘academic potential’ and everything to do with whether a child’s family is affluent and middle class or poor and working class. At Comprehensive Future we are passionate admirers of the work of Gorard, Siddiqui and See. They stand alone as researchers whose work consistently demonstrates that every child, and indeed the whole of society, benefits from an inclusive education. Their latest book is an exciting and ambitious work examining polices worldwide for reducing the poverty attainment gap for disadvantaged students. It offers persuasive arguments not just for an inclusive education system but for educational policies and appropriately targeted funding for students who are persistently at risk of educational disadvantage."

    - Nuala Burgess, Chair of education pressure group Comprehensive Future, and Research Associate, School of Education, Communication and Society King’s College London, UK

    "Education has the power to free our children from the chains of ignorance and poverty. This book by Gorard, Siddiqui, and See provides valuable insights on how we can make school education more meaningful for children, particularly those from socioeconomically disadvantaged families. It is encouraging to see that the evidence presented in this book includes studies conducted in Pakistan, India, and other developing countries. This book serves as an important resource for understanding that many educational challenges are widespread, and the most effective way to address them is through high-quality, evidence-based approaches. Additionally, the book presents compelling evidence that demonstrates the positive impact of funding schools in marginalized communities. As a school leader in northern Pakistan, I have personally witnessed the significant barrier posed by limited funds in adopting effective approaches, particularly for girls who face numerous challenges in accessing education. The main message of this book is relevant and applicable to all school systems worldwide: schools need to be financially resourceful and guided by evidence-based policies. There is no greater priority for our world than investing in the best educational opportunities for our children. The education of children is perhaps the only means to ensure the survival of the human race."

    - Ziauddin Yousafzai, Co-Founder and Board Member, Malala Fund, as well as education activist and author of Let Her Fly: A Father's Journey