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Educational attainment of East European pupils in primary schools in England

Demie, F.

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The aim of this article is to explore the attainment of Eastern European children in primary schools in England. The research draws on detailed National Pupil Database and school census data for 586,181 pupils who completed Key Stage 2 in England in 2016. Two methodological approaches were used to analyse the data. First, the performance of all pupils was analysed by ethnic and language background to illustrate patterns of attainment for each group. Second, attainment data were further analysed by social background factors to explore the main factors influencing performance in schools and the reasons for underachievement. The main findings from the study confirm that a number of Eastern European pupils have low attainment, and their performance in English schools has been masked by government statistics that fail to distinguish between 'White Other' ethnic groups. The empirical data suggest that speakers of Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Bulgarian are particularly underachieving, and that the difference between their educational performance and others is larger than for any other main groups. There is also a wide variation in performance between regions in England, with large attainment gaps between Eastern European and White British children. Some of the main reasons for underachievement identified from the study are the lack of fluency in English, economic deprivation, a disrupted or non-existent prior education and parental lack of understanding of the British education system. Overall, this research confirms that the underachievement of Eastern European children remains a cause for concern and is obviously an issue that policymakers and schools need to address. Implications for policy and practice are discussed in the final section.


Demie, F. (2019). Educational attainment of East European pupils in primary schools in England. London Review of Education, 17(2), 159-177.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 28, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 24, 2019
Publication Date Jul 31, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 29, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jul 31, 2019
Journal London Review of Education
Print ISSN 1474-8460
Electronic ISSN 1474-8479
Publisher UCL Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 2
Pages 159-177


Published Journal Article (887 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
© Copyright 2019 Demie. This is an Open Access
article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence, which permits unrestricted use,
distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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