So what, if anything, can be done to help all pupils in schools where there is a large number of disadvantaged children?
Firstly, resources needed to be directed where they are most needed – to disadvantaged children. The Pupil Premium is one way of addressing this as it might encourage advantaged schools to take in more disadvantaged children. Another way is to attract the most talented teachers to disadvantaged schools. The Labour government tried to do this by offering a golden handcuff for young teachers with high grades if they worked in disadvantaged schools. However, this would not have attracted the most experienced teachers. In any case, the Coalition government has abolished the scheme. High quality teachers raise test scores so the government should consider measures to attract and retain the best teachers.
Another way in which all pupils in disadvantaged schools could be helped is to recognize that being in a disadvantaged school impacts on results. However, when an examination board, AQA, published a discussion paper suggesting a way in which A level results could be weighted according to the type of school, the suggestion resulted in howls of protest from advantaged schools, particularly independent ones, politicians, including Mr Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, and large sections of the media.