“This is a shocking indictment of eight years of Conservative-led education policies.
“The report makes clear that a child’s socio-economic background continues to exert the greatest influence on student achievement, particularly in schools serving disadvantaged communities. It also highlights the fact that in England, inequalities in student performance grow markedly between adolescence and early adulthood. As the fifth wealthiest global economy, this is shameful.
“It is the Government’s responsibility to create the conditions in which children are well fed and clothed and living in decent accommodation. These are the basic conditions for learning. Yet there are over four million children living in poverty in the UK currently, two thirds of whom are in working families.
“The report notes that initial learning and development are largely influenced by factors relating to family background and early environments. It highlights the extent to which high-quality early years education has a crucial positive influence on mitigating the effect of disadvantage. Yet 1,000 Sure Start Centres have closed in England since 2010 and the Government’s much trumpeted 30 hours of free childcare offer has flopped, with providers unable to provide the places at the rates the Government has made available.
“One of the report's most powerful findings is that reforms aimed at increasing school choice actually worsen inequality between schools. This has certainly been the experience in England with the Conservative’s ‘choice agenda’ entrenching and exacerbating inequality within the school system.
“The NEU welcomes the OECD’s recommendations that policy-makers should increase resources for schools serving disadvantaged communities. The NEU also welcomes the recommendation that Government’s should create a comprehensive entitlement to early years education for all children.
“This report should act as a wake-up call to the Government. Its so-called school ‘reforms’ since 2010 have not only failed to achieve their stated aim of raising education quality, they have significantly widened inequality and entrenched disadvantage throughout a child’s schooling and into adulthood.”