Introduction and non-technical summary
In the Levelling Up White Paper (February 2022), the Government announced plans to drive school improvement in England through 55 local authorities (LAs) selected as Education Investment Areas (EIAs).
These cover the third of local authorities where educational outcomes are currently weakest and other local authorities containing existing place-based interventions. The Government also stated their intention to make more intensive investment across some of these EIAs. As set out in the Schools White Paper, 24 Priority EIAs have been identified which will receive this additional focus. West Somerset is one of those areas.
Selection methodology for Priority EIAs
Outline of approach
Priority EIAs are areas selected from within the 55 EIAs. 24 areas have been selected.
To ensure that the department’s approach to levelling up is consistent with existing policies to improve outcomes in specific areas with high levels of need, the 12 existing Opportunity Areas have been selected as Priority EIAs. The Opportunity Area programme, announced in 2016, focuses on improving educational attainment and social mobility.
The 12 local authorities (excluding Opportunity Areas) with the lowest ranking on the standardised KS2 and KS4 composite measure (used in selecting EIAs) that also meet a minimum level of deprivation, have then been selected as Priority EIAs.
Identifying EIAs with the lowest attainment
The three-year composite measure of educational performance used in selecting EIAs has been used. This is a measure of relative performance calculated by combining two standardised three-year average scores for (1) KS2 outcomes (based on the proportion of pupils reaching the expected standard in all of reading, writing and maths in national curriculum assessments) and (2) KS4 outcomes (based on progress 8). The three years used are 2017 to 2019 which are the most recent complete three years of performance data. KS2 attainment data has not been collected since 2019 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Using the same metric for both EIA and Priority EIA selection ensures a consistent approach and provides a clear, objective measure of educational performance. Priority EIAs are the lowest ranking local authorities on this measure that also meet a minimum level of deprivation.
Additional economic disadvantage criterion
The educational performance data outlined above alone would not reflect the geographical inequalities in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schooling. Evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds (see: Pupils' progress in the 2020 to 2021 academic year - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and as such, local authorities with significant proportions of economically disadvantaged pupils may now be more likely to be among the worst areas for educational outcomes than 2017 to 2019 attainment data would suggest.
The chosen criterion to account for levels of economic disadvantage is that at least 30% of pupils across primary and secondary year groups in state funded schools in the local authority must be eligible for the deprivation pupil premium. 30% is above the national rate of 25% and covers the top three deciles of local authorities. This ensures that areas selected are those with relatively high levels of economic disadvantage which are likely to have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Opportunity Areas selected as Priority EIAs (operating at a sub-LA level)
Associated Local Authority data is provided for these sub-LA level Priority EIAs for consistency, but these Priority EIAs have not been selected at LA level. As noted above selection of these Priority EIAs at sub-LA level is to ensure consistency with the original selection methodology for Opportunity Areas. This data is not necessarily representative of attainment or rates of economic disadvantage in the specific sub-LA area that will become a Priority EIA.
|Standardised KS2 and KS4 measure (for Local authority) by rank (1 is lowest rank)
|Percentage of pupils eligible for deprivation pupil premium (in local Authority)
|West Somerset *
*West Somerset was subject to a district boundary change in 2019 and became a part of the local authority district of Somerset West and Taunton, within the uppertier local authority of Somerset.
West Somerset was selected as a Priority EIA, and not Somerset West and Taunton, as it is expected that the scope of interventions in this area will remain within geographic boundary of the West Somerset Opportunity Area, which has continued to operate without the addition of new territory.