NORTHERN IRELAND

Educational attainment at age 11

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • On average, the higher the level of deprivation (in terms of free school meal entitlement) in a school, the less likely it is that its children will have reached level 4 at age 11.  Even so, even in the most deprived fifth of schools, around 70% of children do reach this level.
  • In English, 30% of 11-year-olds in the most deprived fifth of primary schools did not reach level 4 in 2010.  This compares with an average of 18% for all schools.
  • In Maths, the figures were similar: 28% in the most deprived fifth of primary schools not reaching level 4 compared to 17% for all schools.
  • Since 2001, the overall proportion of children not reaching level 4 has come down by 8-9 percentage points (from 27% to 18% in English and from 25% to 17% in Maths).  Over the same period, the proportion of children not reaching level 4 in the most deprived fifth of schools has come down by 11-12 percentage points (from 42% to 30% in English and from 39% to 28% in Maths).  So, the improvement witnessed on average has also occurred in the schools with high levels of deprivation.
  • Overall, children in Catholic-managed schools have a similar likelihood of not reaching level 4 as those in other schools.  For schools with any given prevalence of free school meals entitlement, however, children in Catholic-managed schools have a somewhat lower likelihood of not reaching level 4 than those in other schools.  This difference is particularly noticeable for schools in the most deprived fifth of all primary schools, where 26% of children attending Catholic-managed schools did not reach level 4 compared with 35% of children in other schools (average of English and Maths).

Definitions and data sources

This indicator looks at the connection between childhood deprivation and whether children reach minimum educational standards at age 11.  This is measured by whether a child reaches level 4 in the Key Stage 2 tests taken by all children in the last year of primary school, where level 4 is the target level for this age group.  In Northern Ireland, children take these tests (part of the assessment under the National Curriculum) in addition to the Transfer Test that influences whether they go on to grammar school.

The first graph shows, over time, the proportion of children not achieving level 4 at Key Stage 2 for English and maths, with the data shown separately for all schools and for the fifth of schools with the highest rates of free school meal entitlement.

The second graph shows, for the latest year, how the proportion of children not achieving level 4 at Key Stage 2 for English and maths varies by level of deprivation in the school, with the data shown separately for Catholic-managed and other-managed schools.   Each figure is the average for English and maths.  The measure of deprivation used is entitlement for free school meals, with the schools grouped into fifths according to the proportion of their pupils who are entitled to free school meals.  Note that there is some uncertainty about the precise proportions for the groupings with below-average free school meal entitlement because of the Department of Education, Northern Ireland’s policy of suppressing some of the numbers for data disclosure reasons.

The data for both graphs comes from the Department of Education, Northern Ireland (the data is not publicly available).  In the first graph, no data is available for 2004.  For any particular year, schools who did not submit Key Stage 2 results have been excluded from the analysis.

Overall adequacy of this data: medium.  Whilst all the data is administrative and so more reliable than survey results, data for a number of schools is not available for some years.  Furthermore, schools open and close over time, making the first graph less reliable.