Education & Family

Wilshaw wants Bradford schools inquiry

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Media captionSir Michael Wilshaw warns of schools failing "generation after generation"

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw says the "situation is so bad" in Bradford's schools there should be a "commission of inquiry" to investigate.

Sir Michael says the city needs an education commissioner and warned of poorly-educated "alienated" youngsters.

"The dangers of being alienated from British society are very great indeed," said Sir Michael.

Bradford council says results have been poor in recent years but there was now a "no excuses culture".

Publishing Ofsted's annual report, Sir Michael warned of a growing north-south divide in standards in secondary schools.

But he raised particular concerns about Bradford, where he said schools were in the lowest-achieving 10 authorities at both primary and secondary level.

And he warned that schools in the city "remain mired in mediocrity, failing generation after generation with depressing regularity".

'Political will'

Of the 100,000 pupils in Bradford's schools, he said 40,000 were in schools rated as "less than good" and 8,000 of these were in schools labelled as "inadequate".

The Ofsted chief is calling for a commissioner to run education in the city.

In the wake of the Trojan Horse controversy a commissioner was created to oversee education in Birmingham.

Sir Michael warned of the risks of a weak education system.

"If children are poorly educated, they don't go to university, they don't get apprenticeships, they don't get jobs.

"Educational underperformance leads directly to social alienation," said Sir Michael.

This included the risk of radicalisation, said an Ofsted spokesperson.

There was nothing inevitable about underachievement in Bradford's schools, said Sir Michael.

"Bradford's social composition and challenges aren't that different to London's East End, which in the main performs very well," said the head of the education watchdog.

His annual report called for greater "political will" to raise standards in parts of the north and midlands.

And he challenged leaders in Bradford: "What on earth have the political leaders been doing over the years in this major city?"


Michael Jameson, Bradford council's strategic director of children's services, acknowledged poor results in recent years.

"But crucially we are taking the right actions to transform standards. Ofsted endorsed our school improvement strategy for Bradford when they inspected us in the summer and they found evidence of a "step-change" in our approach.

"We are working with all national and regional agencies including the Regional Schools Commissioner and Ofsted and asking questions about what more each organisation can bring to support our ambition to drive up standards.

"So I would expect Ofsted to support us in delivering our appropriate plans quickly and talk with us directly rather than devising another new system to look at the challenges."

Susan Hinchcliffe, local councillor and lead on education, said: "I want to see action, not more reviews" and questioned "what else a commissioner would do".

Bradford was one of 16 under-performing local authorities identified by Ofsted.

They are Barnsley, Blackpool, Bradford, Derbyshire, Doncaster, Hartlepool, Knowsley, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Oldham, Salford, St Helens, Stoke on Trent, Isle of Wight, Swindon and South Gloucestershire.

Ofsted annual report 2015

  • North-south gap in school standards
  • Primary schools improving, but weaker secondary
  • Teacher shortage affecting many schools
  • Need for better leadership in underperforming schools
  • Structural change - such as academy status - "can only do so much"
  • Free school standards "broadly in line" with other schools
  • Early education "never stronger"
  • Prison education "declined even further"
  • Next year's annual report will be the last from Sir Michael Wilshaw

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