1. ITV Report

Schools failing poorer pupils

Schools in the East of England are claimed to be failing their poorest pupils. Photo: ITV News Anglia

The Chief Inspector of Ofsted says disadvantaged children living in leafy suburbs, market towns and seaside resorts, are being let down by their schools, particularly in the East of England.

Sir Michael Wilshaw is calling for an army of top teachers to be deployed in schools that are failing their poorest pupils.

He wants the Government to recruit a proportion of England's most talented teachers to teach in "less fashionable, more remote or challenging places".

Teachers could be offered incentives to sign up to become a National Service Teacher such as bigger pay packets, higher status and faster career progression.

In a major speech, Sir Michael will warn that there is an "invisible minority" of disadvantaged children living in "leafy suburbs, market towns or seaside resorts" who are being let down by their schools.

He says: "The quality of education is the most important issue facing Britain today. In the long term, our success as a nation - our prosperity, our security, our society - depends on how well we raise and educate our young people across the social spectrum."

In the last 20 to 30 years, standards in schools in major cities have been transformed, and problems of under-achievement have shifted to deprived coastal towns and rural areas of the country, especially in the East, Sir Michael argues.

There are also a significant number of poorer children in more affluent areas such as Kettering and Norwich, who are being failed by their schools.

"Today, many of the disadvantaged children performing least well in school can be found in leafy suburbs, market towns or seaside resorts," he says.

"Often they are spread thinly, as an 'invisible minority' across areas that are relatively affluent.

"These poor, unseen children can be found in mediocre schools the length and breadth of our country. They are labelled, buried in lower sets, consigned as often as not to indifferent teaching. They coast through education until - at the earliest opportunity - they sever their ties with it."

He adds: "The most important factor in reversing these trends is to attract and incentivise the best people to the leadership of underperforming schools in these areas. This may require government to work with Teaching Schools to identify and incentivise experienced and effective teachers to work in less fashionable, more remote or challenging places. The concept of a 'National Service Teacher' should be considered."

National Service Teachers would be employed and funded by central government to teach in schools and areas of the country that are deemed to be failing their disadvantaged pupils.

Sir Michael's speech comes as Ofsted publishes a new report looking at the gap in attainment between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils across the education system.

Alongside calling for National Service Teachers, Sir Michael is due to recommend that a series of challenges are set up, based on the London Challenge which helped to raise standards in schools across the capital, in regions or areas that are failing to meet the needs of their disadvantaged pupils.

And he will say that more needs to be done to make sure that outstanding headteachers and principals are working in the places where they are needed most.