Key Stage 2 school performance tables have been published today.

We already knew some of headlines about performance at a national level from the publication of interim data in July and provisional data in September.

Today, we get to see progress scores for the final time in their current incarnation and so can look at the gaps for different groups.

Disadvantaged pupils

Firstly, let’s look at how the gaps have changed for disadvantaged pupils compared to their peers – see the chart below.

The gap has stayed the same in reading and widened slightly in writing and maths.

The Department for Education also reports that the diasdvantage gap index (based on attainment in reading and maths rather than progress) has increased fractionally for the first time since measurement began in 2011.

How much we can read into these statistics I do not know. The percentage of disadvantaged pupils reaching the end of Key Stage 2 has been falling slightly over the last few years – from 31.7% in 2015 to 30.6% in 2019 – as a result of welfare reforms. The 2019 cohort would also have been reaching the end of Key Stage 1 just as universal infant free school meals was being introduced. We might well expect the disadvantage rate to decline further in the years ahead.


We wrote about the dip in attainment in reading among boys back in the summer.

Today’s statistics show a widening of the gap in reading progress scores nationally, although boys have increased their advantage in maths – see the next chart.

Looking at school-level performance over the last few years, it is certainly the case that girls tend to be achieve higher progress scores in reading. This was the case in 70% of schools in 2019.

FFT Aspire

For an in-depth analysis of your results, log in to FFT Aspire and access your KS2 interactive dashboard.

Not an FFT Aspire user?

Learn more here.

But there are some schools where boys consistently achieve higher progress scores in reading. Looking at data for the last three years, I’ve identified 236 schools where:

  • the reading progress score for boys has been higher than that for girls in each of the last three years;
  • the three-year average reading progress score for boys is at least one point higher than that for girls;
  • the three-year average percentage of boys achieving the expected standard (or higher) in reading, writing and maths is at least 60%.

A list of these schools can be found here. They can be found all over in England and operate in a variety of contexts.

Are they doing things that work to improve boys’ reading? That’s impossible to answer from the data at hand.

Or could it be that girls’ reading is not as good as what it could be in some of them? After all, some progress scores are below average.

But maybe something can be learned from some of them.

Want to stay up-to-date with the latest research from FFT Education Datalab? Sign up to Datalab’s mailing list to get notifications about new blogposts, or to receive the team’s half-termly newsletter.