Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are being let down by schools, according to Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw – and many of those being left behind are now in suburbs, market towns and resort towns rather than inner cities. The chief inspector believes such pupils often form an “invisible minority” in affluent areas where they are “buried in lower sets” and “consigned … to indifferent teaching”.
The achievement gap can be clearly seen in the GCSE figures from 2011-12, in which only 37 per cent of 16-year-olds eligible for free school meals achieved a grade C or above in GCSE maths or English, compared with 63 per cent of other pupils, BBC News reports.
In a report, Mr Wilshaw is expected to make recommendations on how to close the achievement gap between rich and poor. Part of the plan involves using government-employed “National Service Teachers” to teach in schools that are failing the most disadvantaged pupils, and sub-regional versions of the London Challenge initiative that helped to turn around many schools in the capital.
Schools will also not receive an “outstanding” rating from Ofsted if pupils on free school meals fall significantly behind others, and schools will be inspected as a priority if the attainment of poorer pupils falls sharply.
“Closing the unacceptable attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers is at the heart of our reforms,” a Department for Education spokesman told BBC News.