The education system in Vietnam is relatively equitable and this means that poorer children can expect a decent quality of schooling. Our data show children from disadvantaged as well as average or better-off backgrounds make good progress in classes taught by motivated and well-trained teachers. Teachers are evaluated six or more times a year and they assess their pupils regularly. Few teachers, including those working in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, perform poorly in assessments of their knowledge for teaching grade 5. Most classrooms have electricity and more than 96% of pupils have core textbooks for their own use. Both teacher and student absenteeism averaged only two days over our study period of 8 months.