In the UK, August is exam results month for 16-18 year olds. Every year, photos of leaping teenagers clutching their results are accompanied by reports of record attainment rates, debates around how challenging modern exams are and, more so recently than ever, concerns for the number of sixth form and university places. Back in March the full list of the 2010 GCSE results (exams taken by UK 16 year olds [except in Scotland]) were released and I mapped them but never got round to sharing them with anyone. Now seems a good time to do this so here goes…
This is quite a coarse map as England is only split into the 152 LAs and we know there is much greater variation between schools at a local level and even sometimes within individual schools. Moreover, schools on authority borders often serve communities from the areas on either side, limiting the application of LA data to their populations only. Independent (fee-charging) schools are also included in these broad LA results, which is significant when we take into account the predictably higher results of fee-paying pupils and the fact that these schools have not been established with regard for even distribution across the country. The size of the LA (in school-age population terms) does not seem to have a strong link to the results of its pupils. There must be other factors at play. Concerning known evidence indicates that a pupil’s level of deprivation has a stark impact on his/her attainment. This is supported by the plot for London below that shows the relationship between a borough’s mean national deprivation rank (known as the index of multiple deprivation or IMD).
Another way to show represent this information is by mapping the 2010 GCSE scores for each of the London Boroughs and resizing the borough so that it represents the levels of child poverty (measured by number of under 16s receiving means-tested benefits).
Again, the map above is not perfect as it is still quite generalised and shows only one of the many measures of child poverty that are used. Both maps also show only one measure of attainment the “GCSE or Equivalent” score. The “or Equivalent” bit is important here as it covers a wide range of more