Poorer Kettering children ‘failed by their schools’

Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The Ofsted chief inspector has said an army of top teachers should be deployed in schools which are failing their poorest pupils, including in places such as Kettering.

Sir Michael Wilshaw is calling for the Government to recruit a proportion of England’s most talented teachers to teach in less fashionable, more remote or challenging places, making specific reference to the town.

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 the speech, Sir Michael warned of an invisible minority of disadvantaged children living in leafy suburbs, market towns or seaside resorts who are being let down by their schools.

These youngsters are under-performing and coasting through school until they leave at the earliest opportunity.

He said: “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 such as London, Birmingham, Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Leicester have been transformed, and problems of under-achievement have shifted to deprived coastal towns and rural areas of the country, Sir Michael argued.

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

“Often they are spread thinly, as an invisible minority across areas that are relatively affluent,” he said.

“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 added: “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.