Rural England

Educational attainment at age 16

Key points


Graph 1: By gender and free school meal eligibility

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Rural/urban ratios (urban = 10)

On most poverty and social exclusion indicators, rural areas have 'better scores' than urban areas.  The purpose of the table below is to differentiate between those subjects where rural areas are 'a bit better' and those where rural areas are 'a lot better'.  It does so by presenting the rural statistics for the indicator as a proportion of the urban statistics.  So, for example, a rural 'score' of 6 in the table below means that the rural statistic is around 60% of its urban equivalent.

Type of district Eligible for free school meals Not eligible for free school meals
Boys Girls Boys Girls
'Very rural' districts12 10 8 9
'Mostly rural' districts12 13 8 8
'Part rural' districts12 12 8 9


Definitions and data sources

The graphs

For each type of local authority district, the graph shows the proportion of pupils at the end of key stage 4 in maintained schools who do not obtain five or more GCSEs (or vocational equivalent).  The data is shown separately by gender and eligibility for free school meals.

Rural-urban designations are based on the home addresses of the pupils and not on the location of the schools they attend.

Since entitlement to free school meals is essentially restricted to families in receipt of out-of-work benefits, this should be thought of as a proxy for worklessness rather than low income.

Level of the data

Lower tier local authorities (districts), as classified by the DEFRA 2009 classification system.  Both the DEFRA classification rules and their results by local authority can be found on the page on rural/urban classification systems.


The English National Pupil Database.  The data is for pupils at the end of Key Stage 4.  It covers maintained schools only, and excludes both independent schools and pupil referral units.


The numbers

Type of district Eligible for free school meals Not eligible for free school meals
Boys Girls Boys Girls
'Very rural' districts300 17% 200 10% 1,300 4% 800 3%
'Mostly rural' districts500 18% 400 12% 1,800 5% 1,000 3%
'Part rural' districts600 18% 400 11% 1,800 5% 1,100 3%
Urban districts4,500 15% 2,800 9% 8,600 6% 4,900 3%