Differential attainment

Differential attainment (DA) is what we call the gap between attainment levels of different groups of doctors. It occurs across many professions.

It exists in both undergraduate and postgraduate contexts, across exam pass rates, recruitment and Annual Review of Competence Progression outcomes and can be an indicator that training and medical education may not be fair.

Differentials that exist because of ability are expected and appropriate. Differentials connected solely to age, gender or ethnicity of a particular group are unfair.

Our standards require training pathways to be fair for everyone. Under the public sector equality duty, we and those who we regulate must have ‘due regard’ to the need to:

  • eliminate unlawful discrimination
  • advance equality of opportunity
  • foster good relations.

Variation in attainment can be observed across groups when split by a number of protected characteristics, including age, gender and race. As there is no single agreed cause of these variations this can make it difficult to identify a single factor or specific area that should be targeted with an intervention