Education inspectors are to investigate the standard of Portsmouth’s schools after the city was named one of the bottom 20 authorities in the country for pupil attainment.
Concerns about the city’s exam results has prompted the Ofsted inspection into the level of support being given to schools by Portsmouth City Council.
The statistics show just 50 per cent of students achieve five or more GCSEs A* to C grades, including English and maths.
This puts Portsmouth in the bottom 20 local authority areas in the country.
The figures show less than one in three students from disadvantaged background achieve the GCSE benchmark of five or more GCSEs A* to C grades, including English and Maths.
This puts Portsmouth in the bottom third of all councils in the country.
Cllr Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said low attainment in the city was a deep-rooted problem and the Conservative administration have made in their number one priority last year and into this year.
She told The News: ‘Education attainment in Portsmouth has been below the expectations set for a number of years.
‘This is not a recent issue.
‘It’s a long-term issue which affects predominantly white seaside towns.’
Cllr Jones said the focus was about ‘increasing aspirations’ across the city.
‘Children in Portsmouth are not any less bright than other children in the UK,’ she said.
‘What we know if that 80 per cent of schools in our city including the primary sector are now rated as good.
‘We have a number of outstanding primary schools in the city.
‘We hope to get our first outstanding secondary school in the next few weeks.’
This week the council announced that £7.25m of its £12.5m capital budget would be going into improving schools, including creating around 400 extra school places and rebuilding King Richard School in Paulsgrove.
She said there were ‘two extremes’ in the city and the challenge was to make sure all schools were performing well.
‘We do acknowledge there’s a problem,’ said Cllr Jones.
‘We have got some outstanding schools and some very good schools.
‘But we also have some that are really not very good.
‘We are working very hard with the government and inspectors to increase aspirations so that teachers are supported.’
Last year Stephen Long, senior Ofsted inspector for the south east, said the big gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds getting good grades compared to their peers needs to be addressed in south east Hampshire.
In Portsmouth, around 70 per cent of children from a not-so disadvantaged background will get five GCSEs A to C, with maths and English.
A Portsmouth teacher, who did not want to be named, told The News: ‘I think we need to celebrate the successes and note that both schools and pupils are overcoming lots of barriers to learning such as economic problems, displacement and high unemployment.
‘They all have an impact on outcomes.
‘Within those statistics, there will be success stories.
‘It’s a shame for teachers because we put a lot of hard work in. All schools are working towards getting the best for young people.
‘What these assessments focus on is very limited. There are other ways to measure attainment and progress, such as social and emotional achievement.’
Percentage of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs A* to C grades, including English and maths
Admiral Lord Nelson School – 64 per cent
City of Portsmouth Boys School (now Trafalgar School) – 49 per cent
King Richard School – 33 per cent
Mayfield School – 58 per cent
Miltoncross School – 40 per cent
Portsmouth Academy for Girls – 48 per cent
St Edmund’s Catholic School – 64 per cent
Springfield School – 63 per cent