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Key points

  • Overall GCSE attainment in London is now better than the rest of England. 39% of pupils in Inner London and 37% in Outer London did not get five GCSEs at A* to C (including maths and English), compared with 42% in the rest of England.
  • This is despite Inner London's high proportion of pupils on free school meals (at 35% at age 16) and with English as a second language (at 52%). This is higher than in Outer London (17% and 32% respectively) which in turn is higher than for the Rest of England.
  • Over five years to 2012, the proportion of Inner London 16 year-olds entitled to free school meals who failed to achieve this grades came down 20 percentage points (to 47%). Both Inner and Outer London (which saw a 16 percentage point fall to 55%) improved further and faster than the rest of England (down 13 percentage points to 67%).
  • In 2006/07 53% of pupils not on free school meals in Inner London did not achieve five GCSEs at A* to C (including maths and English), higher than the Rest of England. By 2011/12 it was 35%, lower than the Rest of England.
  • There were also improvements in attainment at age 11. The proportion of pupils in London not obtaining Level 4 at Key Stage 2 (age 11) declined from 24% for Inner London and 23% for Outer London in 2010 to 18% for both in 2012.
  • In 9 boroughs over 40% of schools were at or above capacity and all of them were in Outer London.
  • 16% of Inner London 19 year olds lacked a level 2 qualification in 2012, equal to the average for the rest of England and down from around 40% in 2005. In Outer London the drop was from 31% to 13%.This improvement has been mirrored in higher qualifications: having a level 3 qualification is now the norm for 19 year olds.
  • In 2011 38% of adults in London had completed some form of higher education, 12 percentage points higher than the rest of England. Although the proportion of people in London with no qualifications has fallen, the overall number at 1.1 million has hardly changed.
  • Around 290,000 people aged 10 or over in London, around 4%, were not able to speak English well. This rate was lower among younger people (less than 1% of people aged under 19) and higher among older women (around 6% for women aged 35 and over).

Find out more about Education by visiting the indicators in this section, listed on the right.

In general in the UK, children in low-income households are less likely to do well at school. This section therefore looks at achievements by 11 and 16 year olds in schools funded by local authorities in London.

The first London's Poverty Profile report showed how much levels of educational attainment had improved in London over the previous decade. For 11 and 16 year olds right across the capital, the proportion of children not achieving basic levels of education had fallen significantly. Where Inner London had previously been much worse than other English regions, particularly at GCSE level, it had, by 2007, moved very close to the average. Outer London had a better GCSE pass rate than any region in England.

All this was despite London having a much higher proportion of poor children (proxied by free school meal recipiency) than other parts of the country. 22% of primary school pupils and 19% of secondary school pupils in London get free school meals, compared to 15% and 11% respectively in England on average. Free school meals are offered to children whose parents claim out-of-work benefits. In much of the analysis in this section, we look at the difference in attainment between children on free school meals and other children.