Secondary claims to be 'billion-pound school' based on earnings research

Simon Elliott is CEO of the Community Schools Trust and headteacher at Forest Gate Community School

Forest Gate Community School headteacher Simon Elliott. - Credit: Community Schools Trust

A secondary school in Forest Gate claims to be among a handful of “billion-pound schools”, based on new research.

The government's Department for Education (DfE) found young people who earn just one GCSE grade better than their peers across nine subjects earn on average over £200,000 more throughout their lives.

The findings have established, for the first time, a link between attainment and lifetime earnings, DfE says.

Forest Gate Community School (FGCS) has been ranked in the top 50 schools in the country five years in a row.

Pupils have achieved on average one grade higher across nine GCSE subjects than other schools around the country in each of those years.

FGCS currently has 270 students in each school year, which adds up to more than £50 million in additional earnings across all of the children's lifetimes combined, based on the DfE figures.

Over 20 years, this works out to be more than £1 billion in total.

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In that time, 5,400 students will each earn £5,000 a year more than peers at other schools.

FGCS executive headteacher Simon Elliott said: “We are among a handful of schools nationwide where students that have consistently averaged a grade higher at GCSE across a period of five years or more.

“That is a remarkable achievement in of itself but now, with this new research from the DfE, we are able to put a quantifiable figure on what that means to our students and wider society.

“It is well documented that earning more money means you live longer, give your children a better life and are happy.”

Statisticians and economists at the DfE tracked more than two million young people in England over a 12-year period as part of their research. 

They studied GCSE grades between 2001/02 and 2004/5 as well as earnings records from the Longitudinal Educational Outcomes dataset.

Information from the UK Labour Force survey was used to predict salaries up to retirement age.

Researchers estimated that the average GCSE pupil would go on to earn £1.3million in their lives.

Those who achieved a grade higher than their peers in just one GCSE subject increased their lifetime earnings by an average of £23,000 - across nine subjects, this rose to £207,000.

Mr Elliot added: “Newham is an area with social problems but with quality teaching and education we can make a significant difference to their lives and life chances.”