William Eichler 21 August 2018

Labour warn of ‘shameful’ inequality in education system

Students in the poorest areas in England are nine times more likely than those in the wealthiest areas to be in a school rated as inadequate, according to an analysis of Ofsted data.

The research, conducted by the Labour Party, also revealed students in the country’s poorest areas are half as likely to be in an outstanding school.

Nationally, students in the wealthiest areas consistently attend outstanding and good schools, according to Labour’s findings, with only 2% in schools that are rated inadequate.

This pattern of inequality is starker at the regional level. Seven regions fall below the national average of 19% of students in the most deprived areas attending schools rated outstanding.

In the South West, not a single student in a deprived area goes to a school rated outstanding. In the South East, students in the least deprived areas are 37 times more likely to go to an outstanding school, compared to students in deprived areas.

The Ofsted data also revealed that in Yorkshire and the Humber, students in the very poorest areas are nine times more likely to be in a school that is rated inadequate, compared to students in the least deprived areas.

In the East Midlands, students in the poorest areas are 18 times more likely to go to a school rated inadequate.

Labour also found that in London not a single student in the wealthiest areas goes to an inadequate school. Meanwhile, 6,750 students in the capital attend schools rated as inadequate.

‘No child should be held back from reaching their potential because of their background,’ said Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for education.

‘While the Tories have gifted tax cuts to big businesses, per pupil funding has been cut in real terms. It is the most vulnerable children paying the price for the resulting crisis in our education system.’

The minister for school standards, Nick Gibb, challenged the bleak picture painted by Labour’s analysis.

Mr Gibb argued the attainment gap between poor and wealthy pupils had ‘shrunk’ in a number of areas.

‘The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their more affluent peers has shrunk at various levels –14% in the early years, 10% at age seven and 10% at GCSE level – and on A level results day last week we saw record rates of disadvantaged 18 year olds getting into university,’ he said.

Mr Gibb said the number of good and outstanding schools in the country had also increased from 66% to 86% since 2010, and he noted there were half a million pupils who were in underperforming schools that went on to benefit from becoming academies.

‘We are also putting more money into our school system than ever before, and are investing £2.4bn a year specifically to help disadvantaged pupils alongside schemes like the Opportunity Areas programme which is taking action to improve opportunities for young people who need it most,’ he said.

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