Ofsted issues warning about low education standards in East Midlands

Education standards in the East Midlands are distinctly second division, warns Ofsted chief inspector

Sir Michael Wilshaw highlighted figures showing the East Midlands as the worst performing region in the country on a range of key indicators.

He warned that the low standards are expositing the educational fault line dividing the nation and blamed a culture of complacency and lack of clear accountability for the poor educational performance of towns and cities across the region.

Sir Michael highlighted that the problems are not confined to this one local authority area, but are mirrored in a number of neighbouring towns and cities, and across the East Midlands region as a whole.

For example, he pointed out that, the East Midlands is currently the joint lowest performing Ofsted region in terms of inspection outcomes, with almost one in three secondary schools judged less than good in their last inspection.

The region also had the worst GCSE results in England in 2015; nearly 46 per cent of pupils did not achieve the benchmark five or more A* to C grades including English and Maths.

Ofsted’s Regional Director for the East Midlands, Chris Russell has also published an open letter to all those responsible for education in Northamptonshire.

The letter points out his deep concerns about the low standards of achievement across the country and said that far too many children and young people in Northamptonshire are being deprived of a good education.

Mr Russel says: “Across Northamptonshire there are too many early years’ providers and schools of all types and phases are not good enough. As a result, children do not achieve as well as they should.”

Areas in the East Midlands that fare particularly badly include; Leicester which is the poorest performing local authority in the country for pupil outcomes at the end of Early Years Foundation Stage – with only 51 per cent of children achieving a good level of development, compared to 66 per cent nationally.

Nottinghamshire was highlighted as England’s poorest performer in the phonics screening check at key stage 1, just 69 per cent of the city’s six and seven-year-olds met the required standard in 2015.

“These statistics should serve as a wake-up call,” said Sir Michael Wilshaw. “The poor quality of education in many parts of the East Midlands often passes under the radar as attention is focused on underperformance in the bigger cities of the North and West Midlands, like Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.

“However, in many ways, the problems in this region symbolise more than anywhere else the growing educational divide between the South and the rest of England that I highlighted in my last Annual Report.”

However despite the problems highlighted there are some bright spots across the region that are doing well and are bucking these trends.

Babington Community College, Leicester; Dronfield Henry Fanshawe and Chapel-en-le-Frith, both in Derbyshire are all outstanding secondary schools doing their best for their students. And amongst the outstanding primary schools include; Christ the King Primary in Leicester City and Norbridge Primary in Worksop.

Ofsted’s chief inspector believes that there has been a collective failure by education and political leaders in the region to tackle mediocre provision and a culture of low expectations.

He said: “National politicians and policymakers must start to worry about what is happening north of the Wash. They should be asking why schools in large parts of the East Midlands aren’t doing better.”


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