The proportion of pupils who attain a Level 2 qualification[1] (the equivalent of five good GCSEs) by age 19 varies widely across England. The data shows clear regional differences, with the more southerly regions of the UK all performing better than those in central and northern England. London performs the best in the country, with 85.2% of pupils reaching Level 2 by age 19. Meanwhile, Yorkshire and the Humber has the poorest results, with Level 2 only being attained by 78.3% of pupils.

Region Level 2 attainment by age 19 (%)
London 85.2
East of England 82.3
South East 81.8
South West 81.6
North West 80.7
West Midlands 80.2
East Midlands 79.3
North East 78.8
Yorkshire and the Humber 78.3


These findings also hold up when looking at Level 2 attainment at the local authority level, with 9 out of 10 of the worst performing local authorities being located in the Midlands and the North of England. For the South of England, only the Isle of Wight makes the list.

Bottom 10 Level 2 attainment by age 19 (%)
Sheffield 73.8
Isle of Wight 73.2
Walsall 73.2
Bradford 73.1
Newcastle upon Tyne 71.8
Blackpool 71.7
Kingston Upon Hull, City of 71.5
Knowsley 71.2
Derby 69.9
Nottingham 67.7


Meanwhile, 9 of the 10 best performing local authorities are located within London or the Greater London area. Rutland is an outlier here, being located in the East Midlands. Yet it is also the best performer in the country, with 93.5% of pupils achieving a Level 2 qualification by age 19.

Top 10 Level 2 attainment by. Age 19 (%)
Rutland 93.5
Kensington and Chelsea 91.6
Harrow 89.9
Westminster 89.1
Barnet 89.1
Sutton 88.7
Hackney 88.5
Kingston upon Thames 88.1
Slough 88.0
Hounslow 87.9


On the other hand, Nottingham, also located in the East Midlands, is the worst performing local authority in England, with only 67.7% of pupils attaining Level 2 by age 19. This means that the attainment gap between the best and worst performing local authorities, Rutland and Nottingham, is 25.8 percentage points.

The fact that both the best and worst performing local authorities are in the East Midlands highlights a further point. Clearly, there is not only substantial variation in Level 2 attainment across regions in the UK, but also within regions as well.



Local Authority:

[1] Level 2 attainment is defined as 5 GCSEs at grades 9-4 (A*-C) or an equivalent vocational qualification