Educational Attainment across Urban and Rural Locations in the UK: A Systematic Review

This paper argues that including urban and rural location variables in research methodologies is imperative to gaining a fuller understanding of educational inequalities. Previous research investigating the influence of location on young people’s educational attainment often focuses on measuring poverty levels in urban communities and largely ignores the impacts of rural areas and comparisons between urban and rural locations. Five databases were systematically searched to identify literature investigating educational attainment disparities across urban and rural locations in the UK. Nine studies met the inclusion criteria for this systematic review. This paper examines the available evidence in relation to how educational research defines urban and rural locations and presents findings relating to attainment disparities across urban and rural locations. The search procedures did not identify any studies conducted in the context of Northern Ireland or Wales, subsequently highlighting a significant gap in knowledge. This paper highlights that the field is immature and calls for further high-quality research to be conducted on the relationship between location and educational attainment; specifically research investigating disparities in attainment between and within urban and rural locations.