There’s a lot happening in the world at the moment, so you’d be forgiven if the publication of the 2019 indices of deprivation has passed you by today.

These present various measures of deprivation at local area level. The areas used are lower super output areas (LSOAs), of which there are 32,844 in England, which are defined to be of similar size in terms of population (approximately 1,500 residents or 650 households). These LSOAs fit into local authority boundaries so deprivation can be measured at local authority and regional level too.

Of most interest to those of us who work in education is the income deprivation affecting children index (IDACI). This measures the proportion of children aged 0-15 who live in income deprived households in each LSOA. There are some great maps of this published here.

A quick skim of the 2019 statistics shows that Middlesbrough, Blackpool and Knowsley are now the three most deprived local authorities on this measure.

In 2015, two London local authorities were in the top three: Tower Hamlets and Islington. Although they still feature in the 20 most deprived local authorities on this measure, the percentage of children living in income-deprived households has fallen by 12 and 8 percentage points respectively.

We can compare deprivation at local area level using both IDACI and the percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM). In the latter measure, we are restricted to pupils who go to state schools (aged 5-15), whereas IDACI includes those aged 0-4 and those who go to independent schools. The correlation between the two measures at LSOA level is very high: 0.89.

If we compare IDACI and FSM eligibility at regional level based on pupils aged 5-15 in state schools, we see that deprivation in London has decreased. Note that the most recent FSM data I have access to is from January 2018, so I’m comparing IDACI 2019 to FSM 2018 and I do the same for previous iterations of IDACI.

Mean IDACI and percentage FSM, pupils in Years 1 to 11 in state-funded schools in England (selected years)

The recent iterations of IDACI closely match FSM statistics; hardly surprising given that (as far as I can see) they are based on much the same benefit entitlements. But both show how London has become less deprived.

Free school meal eligibility has been falling generally in response to changing economic conditions and tighter rules on benefit entitlement. Perhaps London has been disproportionately affected by these changes. But when we looked at declining free school meal eligibility a few years ago, we also suggested that families with young children could now be more inclined to stay in the capital rather than move out.

Either way, this is yet another factor that might be contributing to the so-called London Effect.

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