Postcode lottery of education

The latest Ofsted report on the Pupil Premium warns that there is something of a postcode lottery for the improvement of disadvantaged pupils’ performance.

This disparity amongst regions exists at primary and secondary levels, with pupils in some areas particularly less likely to achieve the target standard of 5 GCSEs A*-C including English and maths. These areas include Barnsley, Portsmouth, South Gloucestershire, North Lincolnshire and Northumberland.

Much has been reported about the success of schools in London in closing the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children, but there remains a lot of work to be done if pupils across the country are to get equal opportunities to succeed.

The report said: “It cannot be right that the likelihood of a child receiving a good education should depend on their postcode or economic circumstance. Government should focus its attention on those areas of the country that are letting poor children down.” It promised that Ofsted will be focussing on these poorer performing areas more closely in future reports.

Pupil premium is an additional fund that schools receive to improve the prospects of children eligible for free school meals. It is important that this fund is used wisely. Schools Minister David Laws said: “It [the report] shows head teacher, teachers and governors are rallying behind the policy to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. And where performance is an issue we are taking swift action to ensure all pupils are given the education they deserve.”

Helen Robinson