Wilshaw: 'Radical solution' to help disadvantaged students


A review of the issues facing deprived communities is promising "radical new solutions" to the problems of education underachievement among disadvantaged pupils.

A review of the issues facing deprived communities is promising “radical new solutions” to the problems of education underachievement among disadvantaged pupils.

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has unveiled the review, which he said will investigate the barriers to access and achievement in education for these communities.

It will be the third such report Ofsted has produced after two studies were published in 1993 and 2003 under the title Access and Achievement in Urban Education.

Speaking at the annual conference of the National College for School Leadership last week, Sir Michael said that the 1993 report had described the “lack of educational success and the paucity of good-quality provision in deprived communities”. He continued: “What was so depressing was that (the report in 2003) painted a similarly bleak picture of underperformance in these same communities.”

The two previous studies identified issues such as high pupil turnover and difficulties in teacher recruitment which were preventing schools from improving sufficiently.

Now a review panel of “leading headteachers and academic experts” is to be appointed to seek answers to five questions:

  • Why are some children more affected by socio-economic and educational disadvantage?

  • What more can be done by parents and education providers to ensure the best possible start for those that need it most?

  • What can we learn from schools which are achieving success with disadvantaged pupils?

  • Schools have greater autonomy now over policies and resources – how do we secure effective co-ordination and improvement of local education services in areas of the greatest need?

  • What more needs to happen to ensure that disadvantaged young people achieve success in employment and as citizens?

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, called for the inquiry to focus on “constructive suggestions” to improve practice.

He added: “We are pleased that Ofsted has invited practitioners to take ownership of the situation and to be involved in the inquiry. Teachers and school leaders are already leading the efforts to change the learning landscape, and we have asked the government time and again to involve them in finding solutions at a national level, rather than treating them as part of the problem.”

The report will be published in May 2013. To download the previous two studies from 2003 and 1993, visit www.ofsted.gov.uk.


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