Labour’s Education Spokesperson on Suffolk County Council, Cllr Jack Abbott has spoken of his deep concern after it was revealed that the East of England’s poorest pupils are overwhelmingly more likely to be in failing schools when compared to their wealthier peers.
Labour analysis has found that, in the East of England, just 3% of the poorest pupils were attending one of the best performing schools, but 42% of the wealthiest pupils were in a school rating outstanding.
The findings, based on Ofsted data for secondary schools covering performance and schools’ rating on a deprivation index, challenge the notion that pupils generally are benefiting from higher school standards.
Cllr Abbott commented; “These figures expel the myth that a slow increase in good and outstanding schools are having a universal benefit in our education system, not least because the best schools are largely exclusive to wealthier catchment areas.
“The truth is that the vast majority of pupils from poorer backgrounds still cannot access the best education – far from our education system being a golden ticket to improving life chances, increasing social mobility and reducing inequality, it seems to be exacerbating the immense divisions in our society – this is utterly wrong.”
The figures also show that, nationally, students from the poorest families are nine times more likely to attend secondary schools which are rated inadequate compared to their wealthier peers and that they are half as likely to be enrolled in an outstanding school.
It follows a report from the Fair Education Alliance which found that the poorest children in Britain are more than a year behind their wealthier peers by the time they sit their GCSEs.
Continuing, Cllr Abbott said; “It is still a sad reality that if you are born into a poorer family, your educational outcomes and life chances are diminished from day one.
“We also know that real-term funding cuts are falling on schools in the most deprived areas of Suffolk so this is a situation which will get worse, not better.
“We must do more to increase and protect targeted funding, attract and support brilliant teachers in areas of the greatest need and provide specialist provision to every pupil who needs it.
“No child should ever be left behind but, right now, we are failing far too many.”