Education offers opportunities for significant improvements in life expectancy and inequalities. Education is linked to the ability to earn higher incomes, which in turn enables people to adopt healthier lifestyles such as never or quitting smoking. Education has a direct effect on health outcomes; it also has an indirect impact on other social outcomes: 1

  • Crime: People with no qualifications are more likely to be persistent offenders. Men are especially less likely to commit a crime the more educated they are. 2
  • Poverty and income: According to a study undertaken to examine the relationship between education and income in England and Wales, each additional year of education leads to approximately a 10% increase in income.3 (See below.)
  • Unemployment: The less education a person has, the more likely he or she is to be unemployed. Someone excluded from school is many times more likely to be unemployed than a graduate is.


Eighty five per cent of Merton’s schools are rated good or outstanding (August 2016), this is above the National benchmark of 84%. Of Merton’s primary schools 83% are rated good or outstanding and 100% of secondary schools are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

School population demographic

In Merton maintained schools (exc. Academies and Free Schools) as at January 20153:

  • There were 24,014 full-time equivalent pupils in maintained schools in Merton.
  • 80.4% of children aged 4 and 48.2% of children aged 11 attended Merton schools.
  • 14.1% of pupils were eligible for free school meals (3,002 pupils).
  • 14.6% (3,665 pupils) had SEN, which includes 527 pupils with a statement of SEN.
  • 43.6% (10,940 pupils) spoke a first language other than English.
  • 121 different languages were spoken in Merton schools.
  • 65.1% (16,337 pupils) were from BME groups
  • 16.1% (4,037 pupils) lived outside Merton.
  • 42.6% (10,681 pupils) were living in the bottom 30% IMD area.

Key facts on access to education

For information on Early Years Education see Child Health and Early Years.

Educational attainment is such an important factor in employment opportunity, material prosperity and health. It is a key national performance target. However, some pupils start with a disadvantage due to their family circumstances. Attainment in the Key Stages of education (Key Stage 2 – 11 year olds and Key Stage 4 – GCSEs) is strongly associated with eligibility for free school meals. Schools with high free school meals eligibility have generally lower scores. Initial work looking at attainment for pre-school children has identified that where there are lower levels of attainment by children in the early years there seems to be a lower level of attainment at Key Stage 2


The latest Merton School Standards report provides information about the education standards, and achievement of children and young people in Merton over the academic year. It clarifies the national and local context for schools in Merton and identifies how the Local Authority (LA) has worked with schools to secure and maintain improvement.


Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP)

The EYFSP is an assessment against the 17 Early Learning Goals (ELG). These assessments are completed and reported for each child by the end of the academic year in which they reach the age of 5 i.e. Reception Year.


The ELGs are grouped into the following ‘prime’ areas: Communication and Language; Physical Development; Personal, Social and Emotional Development; and Literacy and Mathematics. Achievement at least at the expected level in all these ‘prime’ areas would mean that a child has achieved a Good Level of Development (GLD). Assessments are also made in the areas of Understanding the World, and Expressive Arts and Design.


The proportion of pupils achieving the GLD in Merton has improved in comparison with performance in 2014. Since 2013 (a three year trend) there has been an increase of 22 percentage points which is greater than the improvements seen across London and nationally (15 percentage points). At 68%, the proportion of children achieving the GLD is in line with the London average and above the indicative national average


Table 1: EYFSP – key performance indicators by main pupil groups (2014-15)



Source: Merton School Standards Report 2014-15


With regard to the GLD, Merton girls continue to do better than boys and the gender gap has remained the same at 14 percentage points (2014/15). However, nationally and in London the gap is wider. The proportion of children eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) achieving the GLD has increased by 11 percentage points to 55%. Whilst all other pupils have also improved their performance, the gap between these groups has reduced.


Merton children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) attain below both the national and London averages for children with SEN. The ethnic groups with the largest representation of pupils in the Merton EYFSP, (White British, White Other and Asian Other), outperformed children of the same ethnic heritage nationally. There is a gap however between White British and both White other and Asian other which is larger than national.


Key Stage 2

KS2 SATs take place in Year 6. Each pupil is tested in reading, mathematics and grammar, punctuation and spelling. They are also teacher assessed in reading, writing, mathematics and science. By the end of KS2, pupils are expected to achieve at least at Level 4.

Pupils’ progress across KS2 is also measured at the end of Year 6. Pupils are expected to have made at least two levels progress across the key stage. Pupils making more than two levels progress have made better than expected progress.

Pupils’ performance in the combined indicator (attainment in reading, writing and mathematics combined) and in the indicators for progress across the key stage in each of reading, writing and mathematics are used to identify whether a school is below the government’s Floor Standard or is at risk of being judged to be coasting.

Merton’s performance is in line with national performance for the level 4 and above attainment indicators.

Performance in the combined attainment indicator (for reading, writing and mathematics) rose at Level 4, Level 4B and Level 5 and above. Merton averages are now above the national at each level, but below the London averages, except at Level 5, where performance is in line. Improvements at each level are in line with those seen nationally and in London, except at Level 5 where Merton bucked the trend as no improvements were seen nationally or in London.

The proportions of pupils making at least expected progress in reading and writing improved in 2015 in comparison with 2014, and remained static in mathematics. The improvements seen in reading bucked the trend seen nationally and in London, where there was no improved performance in this indicator. The proportions of pupils making at least expected progress will continue to be important indicators for schools and the Local Authority, as the median averages form part of the indicator set used to identify whether a school could be deemed to be below the floor standard or coasting. Ofsted also continues to place considerably more emphasis on pupil progress than it has done previously.


Table 2: KS2 – key performance indicators by main pupil groups (2014-15)

Source: Merton School Standards Report 2014-15


Girls outperformed boys with regard to attainment in the combined indicator, but the proportion of boys making at least expected progress in writing and mathematics was slightly higher than that of girls. These gaps are not as large as those seen nationally.

Disadvantaged pupils did not perform as well as their peers, particularly with regard to attainment where there is a 14 percentage point gap. This is slightly wider than that seen for disadvantaged pupils in Merton last year: it remains smaller than the gap seen nationally, but is not as small as the gap for the same group in London. The gap for disadvantaged pupils with regard to progress has been closed for writing and narrowed in reading. These are considerable successes for Merton pupils. However, it has widened slightly in mathematics.

Pupils on SEN support or with a statement/EHCP made significantly better progress across the key stage than the same groups nationally. However, attainment for pupils on SEN support was significantly below the national averages nationally and in London.

Of the four largest ethnic groups at this key stage, White British, Asian Other and White Other attained better than all pupils. Black African pupils’ attainment however was below that of all pupils, and is significantly below national averages in the LA RAISE online report. The other group of concern at this key stage is Black Caribbean pupils whose attainment is significantly below the national average in the combined attainment indicator for this group. At 91, this is the sixth largest ethnic group in the Borough at this key stage. However, the proportions making at least expected progress across the key stage are greater than for this group nationally in reading and writing. Progress in maths is of concern for this group.


Key Stage 4

Key Stage 4, known as GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education), is the main qualification studied for by pupils in Years 10 and 11. GCSEs are studied in a wide range of academic and ‘applied’ (work related) subjects.

60% of Merton students achieved at least 5 A*-C including English and mathematics 2014/15. Performance at 60% remains well above the national average of 54%, but is just below the London average of 61% (2014/15).

In the 5+ A*-C indicator performance in Merton (71%) performed above the national average (65%) and in line with the London average (71%).

The proportion of students achieving the English Baccalaureate 30% is just below the London average 321%, but well above the National average 23%.


Table 3: KS4 – key performance indicators by main pupil groups (2014-15)


Girls outperformed boys in the key indicators shown, except with regard to the proportions making at least expected progress in English where boys slightly outperform girls – this significantly bucks the trend seen nationally in this indicator where girls did much better than boys. As at other key stages, the gender gaps are not as great as those nationally.

45% of disadvantaged students achieved at least 5*A- C including English and mathematics: this is above the national average for this group. The gap of 23% in Merton is lower than the national gap of 28%.

69% of disadvantaged students made at least expected progress in English (above the national average for this group). The gap this with their peers (14%) is narrower than that seen nationally (17%). 57% made at least expected progress in mathematics (above the national average for this group). This represents a gap of 25% in Merton between disadvantaged pupils and their peers, compared to a gap of 24% nationally. Although the achievement gaps for this group are generally narrower than those nationally, they are still wider than the London averages.

Students receiving SEN support, and those with a statement/EHCP do not perform as well as their peers, but outperform those groups nationally and in London.


Post 16 - headline performance information

Performance in all indicators continues to improve in Merton at A Level. Most significantly, the proportion of students achieving at least 3 A levels at A*-E improved from 67% in 2013 to 71% in 2015, bringing the LA average to within six percentage points of the national average.


Not in Education, Employment and Training (NEET)

Non-participation of young people in education, employment or training between the ages of 16 and 19 is a major predictor of later unemployment, low income, depression, involvement in crime, and poor mental health. This was recognised in the Marmot Review ‘Fair Society, Healthy Lives’, Marmot, M. (2010). which proposed an indicator to measure young people not in education, employment or training in order to capture skill development during the school years and the control that school leavers have over their lives. This indicator is therefore a wider measure than just youth unemployment as it also includes young people who are not being prepared for work.

The proportions of young people who are Not in Education, Employment and Training (NEET), or whose status is not known, have fallen and are better than national. The proportion of 16-18 year old NEET has reduced from 4.6% in 2014 to 4.3% in 2015 which is in line with the drop seen in London (0.4). The LA is now challenging itself to be better than London with regard to this figure. In particular, there has been significant success in Merton in reducing the numbers of 16-18 year olds where activity is “not known”. This has reduced from 12.4% in 2014 to 6.6% in 2015. As young people are found (no longer ‘not known’) it is expected that the NEET would rise slightly as young people are identified.

There has been a 27 percentage point rise in the number of young people with SEN in the 16 – 18 cohort and a rise in the number of them who are NEET. However, the proportion of these young people whose status is not known is much lower than London and England. Thus, again, Merton is successfully identifying these young people. The number of teenage mothers, within the NEET cohort has increased. While Merton has successfully reduced its level of teenage pregnancy by 50% over 10 years, the number of teenage mothers as a proportion of the NEET group has stayed static. Case information informs us that these mothers are moving into Merton post 16. A summary of the information available indicates that those at most risk of being NEET have had support with their SEN at school, were known to social care and/or were also known to YOT.

Raising Participation Age (RPA)

The proportion of 16-17 year olds participating in education and training is in line with the London average, and higher than the national average. The proportions in full time education, in apprenticeships, or other education and training is again in line with London averages, and above national averages 2015. Improving access to apprenticeships was a significant target in 2013/14 and has risen to 4.9% over three years.


Attendance and absence

Following improvements in 2011-2014, over which time attendance and persistent absence (PA) levels for all schools in Merton rose to above the national and London averages, rates of attendance have now dropped slightly in comparison with 2013-14, though they are better than the Merton 2012-13 averages; and rates of persistent absence have plateaued. It is likely that once 2014/15 comparative data is available, Merton performance will still be above national and London averages.

Special school attendance continues to be significantly above national and London averages and has improved by 0.1 percentage point. PA is significantly better in special schools in Merton than the national or London averages.

Illness remains the most common reason for absence in Merton, accounting for 63% of all absences.

Table 4: Overall and Persistent Absence by Main pupil groups


London comparators are unavailable for contextual groups: FSM is the benchmark for disadvantage.The transition to the new SEN coding took place during 2014-2015, and new code benchmarking data is not available from the 2013-2014 release which is the national comparative data here.

Source: Merton School Standards Report 2014-15


Overall absence for disadvantaged pupils in Merton was better than the national average and persistent absence was lower in Merton than nationally for this group. However disadvantaged pupils are still not attending as well as their peers. The gap in Merton however is less than it is nationally.

Absence and PA rates for any pupil with an identified SEN are not as good as for pupils with no identified SEN, however they are better than for SEN pupils nationally. This data set has small number in the old categories of school action and action plus – this data isn’t statistically significant.

The ethnic groups with the largest representation of pupils in Merton are White British, White Other and Asian Other. The attendance of these groups varies:

  • Asian Other pupils' absence and persistent absence follows the national trends.
  • White British absence and persistent absence rates are above the 2013-2014 national averages.
  • White Other pupils in Merton have lower absence for both the key measures than nationally.
  • The performance between these two white heritage groups varies widely, with White British having double the proportion of persistent absentees than White Other.


Permanent Exclusions from primary schools have remained at zero, better than the national and London averages. This has been the position for over 10 years and illustrates the impact of the significant and complex inclusion work carried out by primary schools and the LA’s Virtual Behaviour Service (VBS).


Permanent exclusions in secondary schools have increased. Analysis of this increase has identified the reasons for exclusions to include incidents of physical assaults between pupils; and of persistent disruptive behaviour.

The number of fixed term exclusions in primary schools has increased, yet the rate remains below (better than) the national average and in line with London.

The number of fixed term exclusions in secondary schools has decreased in the last year, and are below (better than) national rates. This represents a significant reduction over time: Merton had the third highest fixed term exclusions in London in 2008 (14%), but the rates are now in line with the national average and slightly above London. The predominant reason for fixed term exclusion in secondary schools was ‘Persistent Disruptive Behaviour’ (33.3%), followed by ‘Physical Assault against a Pupil’ (19.0%) and ‘Verbal Abuse/Threatening Behaviour against an Adult’ (17.2%). Again, persistent disruptive behaviour at 33% is above the national average (24%).

The average length of fixed term exclusion has reduced from 2.5 days in 2013/14 to 2.2. This is in line with the national average.

For disadvantaged pupils there is a significant and slightly growing gap with their peers in relation to fixed term exclusions.

22% of pupils with EHCPs or statements of special needs received fixed term exclusions. Although this is significantly higher than for the school population as a whole, this is lower than for this group nationally. Although Black Caribbean pupils are more likely to be excluded than White British pupils, rates of exclusion are much lower than for this group across London and nationally.


Adult Education

The indicators that make up the education domain in the IMD include adult education. It is split into subdomains: one relates to education deprivation for children and young people in the area and the other to lack of skills and qualifications among the working age adult population.


Addressing inequalities in Merton – Indices of Multiple Deprivation: Education. The English Indices of Deprivation provide a relative measure of deprivation at small area level across England. Areas are ranked from least deprived to most deprived on seven different dimensions of deprivation, including education, and an overall composite measure of multiple deprivation. The map suggests that the areas to the south and east of the borough contain higher proportions of people who are experiencing deprivation in terms of education.

Lower Super Output Areas (SOAs) by National Rank Quintiles

Source: Department for Communities and Local Government


©Crown copyright 2012. All rights reserved. ©1994-2012 ACTIVE Solutions Europe Ltd.


There is high overall adult educational attainment in the borough. However, there are two areas that fall within the 20% most deprived for education. These areas also fall in the overall most deprived areas, reflecting an inequality in educational attainment.


Completed Education in Merton

In Great Britain 34.4% of people aged 16-64 were qualified at NVQ4 (degree level equivalent or above) and 9.7% had no formal qualification. This compared with 47.6% of people in London educated at NVQ4 and 8.4% with no qualifications. In Merton 76.9% of people aged 16-64 years were qualified at NVQ2 (five GCSE equivalent at grades A-C). (London NVQ2 level 75.1%).


As of Census 2011, of the total population of the borough aged 16 and over, 15.2% have no educational or skills qualification, while 31% have Levels 1-3 qualifications, and a further 41% have a qualification of Level 4 and above. Figure 4.4 below shows that, between 2007 and 2011, the level of qualifications of Merton residents decreased.


Change in level of qualifications of Merton residents, 2007 to 2011.

The graph below shows the differences in final qualifications between the east and west of the borough, demonstrating a clear divide between the better educated west and the less educated east.


Distribution of qualifications gained in the borough of Merton.



1. Measure of America and United Way American Human Development Project Report (2009). Goals for the Common: Good Exploring the Impact of Education.

2. Walker, I. and Yu Zhu. (2003). Education, earnings and productivity: recent UK evidence. Labour Market Trends.

3. Merton School Census, 2015.