'Poverty of aspiration' across many Yorkshire and Humber schools, says Ofsted

Nick Hudson Report author Nick Hudson said more should be expected of our children

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The education of children across the Yorkshire and Humber region is dogged by "poverty of expectation and poverty of aspiration", an expert has said.

A report by Nick Hudson, regional director of the education watchdog Ofsted, says many children are being failed in schools and academies.

Only 22% of pupils in Barnsley attended good or outstanding secondary schools, his report said.

Barnsley Council said in a statement that its schools were improving.

'Rural isolation'

In his report, Mr Hudson shows that in primary education, Doncaster, Wakefield and the East Riding of Yorkshire had less than 67% of pupils in good or outstanding schools.

Secondary pupils in York, North Lincolnshire, Kirklees and Calderdale had fared better in the report on education for the year 2012/13.

Mr Hudson, the regional director of Ofsted for the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, said the area was a contrast of "significant rural isolation in parts of North Yorkshire and urban deprivation in the major conurbations around Leeds and Sheffield".

He said many youngsters were being failed during their education.

"There's a poverty of expectation, a poverty of aspiration for children and young people who are attending schools in our most deprived communities," he said.

'Evidence of success'

"Local authorities, academy chains, head teachers and teachers have got to believe that children and young people can succeed.

"The evidence is all around us that they can succeed.

"It our job to ensure that we have high expectations of our schools and they in turn have high expectations of our pupils and young people."

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If they are eligible for free school meals, the gap between their attainment and that of their friends not eligible for free school meals will be considerably wider than in England as a whole”

End Quote Nick Hudson Ofsted

However, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said in a statement: "Allegations of a 'poverty of expectation' are insulting to teachers.

"Schools can control some of the factors over children's lives, but not all of them. We have to tackle the inequalities in society if we are to tackle the low achievement of working-class pupils.

"While no teacher would use this as an excuse, it is a plain fact that social background has a very significant impact on the achievement of children."

Barnsley Council said in a statement: "Since this data was produced, Ofsted has judged another of our secondary schools to be good overall.

"This reinforces the improvements seen in Barnsley in GCSE results in 2013 that were at a faster rate than that seen nationally, and regionally in the proportion of students attaining five good GCSE passes including English and mathematics.

"Current strong leadership by headteachers in Barnsley secondary schools, working in partnership with the local authority, is bringing about change and improvement."

In his report Mr Hudson says a typical child's journey through the education system in the North East, Yorkshire and Humber region "starts with early years provision that prepares them less well for primary school than anywhere else in England".

Pockets of performance

He says that "if a child lives in [Yorkshire and the Humber] they will be among the most poorly prepared 11-year-olds in the country".

Mr Hudson adds: "During their time in primary and secondary school, this child and their peers are likely to have lost more school days through absence than children in most other regions of the country.

"If they are eligible for free school meals, the gap between their attainment and that of their friends not eligible for free school meals will be considerably wider than in England as a whole."

The report says of secondary education that "despite pockets of high performance, secondary schools in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber are among the worst in the country overall.

"In Barnsley, Hartlepool, East Riding of Yorkshire, North East Lincolnshire, Middlesbrough, Doncaster and Bradford, more than half of pupils are in schools which are not yet good.

Primary school pupils in Doncaster, Wakefield, the East Riding of Yorkshire, North-East Lincolnshire, Sheffield, Hull and Rotherham were classed as having less than 71% of pupils in good or outstanding schools.

Meanwhile in York, 91% of students in secondary education attended good or outstanding schools. The report said 74% of secondary pupils across North Yorkshire went to better schools.

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