Low standards in schools evident in England’s East Midlands, says Ofsted

Low standards in schools across the East Midlands region of England are exposing the educational fault line dividing the nation, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector said today.

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

He blamed a culture of complacency and a lack of clear accountability for the poor educational performance of towns and cities across the region and across all phases.

Sir Michael made his comments on the same day that Ofsted’s Regional Director for the East Midlands, Chris Russell, published an open letter to all those responsible for education in Northamptonshire. In the letter, he sets out his deep concerns about the low standards of achievement across the county.

Chris Russell said that far too many children and young people in Northamptonshire are being deprived of the opportunity to gain a good education, with weaknesses in the quality of provision persisting across every age group.

Sir Michael pointed out that these 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:

  • 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 at their last inspection
  • the region had the worst GCSE results in England in 2015; nearly 46% of pupils did not achieve the benchmark five or more A* to C grades including English and maths
  • nearly 73% of East Midlands’ pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) failed to achieve this benchmark
  • in the East Midlands children in care did worse than in any other region; just 10.2% of them achieved 5 or more A* to C grades in GCSE examinations, including English and maths.

Across the different phases of education, children in some of the region’s major urban areas and shire counties fare particularly badly:

  • Leicester is the poorest performing local authority in the country for pupil outcomes at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage – with only 51% of the city’s children achieving a good level of development, compared with 66% nationally
  • Nottingham is England’s poorest performer in the phonics screening check at key stage 1 – just 69% of the city’s six and seven-year-olds met the required standard in 2015. In Derby, the figure was just 70%, compared with 77% of pupils nationally
  • Northamptonshire is one of the worst-performing local authority areas in the country for the achievement of disadvantaged children at key stage 2. Only 59% of FSM pupils in the county achieved the expected standards in reading, writing and mathematics at the end of primary school compared with 66% nationally. Their peers in Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Derby fared nearly as badly, with just 60% achieving the expected standards
  • Derby and Nottingham were among the 10 lowest ranking local authority areas nationally for GSCE examinations – only 47.6% and 42.4% of pupils respectively achieved the benchmark five or more A* to C grades including English and maths in 2015

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