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Tories ‘failing school pupils in poor areas’

Over 100 schools have stagnated for 10 years

VULNERABLE children have been failed by government policies, Labour said yesterday, after Ofsted announced that more than 100 schools have not improved for over a decade.

The education watchdog’s annual report shows that 135 schools in England have not recorded a good inspection in the last 10 years, with many of them having high proportions of pupils from deprived areas and low-income backgrounds.

High staff turnover, recruitment difficulties and unstable leadership were problems noted at the schools.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said the report should serve as a “wake-up” call to the government over its failed approach, which has seen school budgets slashed by £2.7 billion.

She also pointed out that the Department for Education (DfE) had missed its teacher recruitment target at a time when the 1 per cent public-sector pay cap have left teachers £5,000 a year worse off in real terms, warning that this “will only make things worse in some of our most challenging schools.”

Ms Rayner said: “If the government was committed to giving every child the best start in life, they would do well to start with Labour’s commitment to providing new funding to end the public-sector pay cap, to help schools recruit and ensure every child can access a great education.”

Chief Inspector of Education Amanda Spielman said in her report: “We should all be wary of using the make-up of a school community as an excuse for underperformance.”

The National Education Union (NEU) urged Ms Spielman to take the government to task over the matter.

Although her Ofsted report acknowledges the hard work of teachers and schools that need long-term support, the union said the government needed reminding that it was missing child poverty reduction targets, cutting funding to schools and missing teacher recruitment targets.

On top of this, it said, the Tories have failed to produce a decent industrial strategy.

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “Ofsted is failing to speak truth to power. It is the government accountability regime that is leading to those behaviours in schools and Ofsted should call out the government over that, acknowledging its own responsibility within the system too.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by Chris Keates, general secretary of sister teaching union NASUWT, who warned: “It is past time for the DfE to recognise that unless the government fulfils the critical responsibilities of the state, the problems and shortcomings in the system identified by Ofsted today will only persist, broaden and intensify.”


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