Schools need to work harder to bridge grade difference gap

Changes have been proposed to school transport provision.
Changes have been proposed to school transport provision.
  • In Portsmouth, 70 per cent of children from advantaged backgrounds did well, compared to their disadvantaged peers at 49 per cent
  • In Hampshire 61 per cent did well from advantaged backgrounds compared to peers at 27 per cent
  • Ofsted chief calling on more work to be done
Have your say

THE big gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds getting good grades compared to their peers needs to be addressed in south east Hampshire.

That’s the message from Stephen Long, senior Ofsted inspector for the south east, as the schools regulatory body releases its annual report.

It is disappointing to see a gap, but we are working to bridge it

Councillor Neill Young, in charge of education at Portsmouth City Council

Mr Long said: ‘There’s a difference in achievements between children from a disadvantaged backgrounds compared to their peers.

‘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.

‘But this falls to 49 per cent for disadvantaged children.

‘In Portsmouth secondary schools are quite low achieving.

‘The issue with the Portsmouth authority is standards at secondary schools are well below the regional and national average.’

Schools are entitled to get extra funding to help children who have specialist needs in what is known as ‘pupil premium’.

Schools can get an extra £1,320 for pupils in reception to year 6.

While for young people in years seven to year 11, a school can get an extra £935 per pupil.

This money is used to help provide extra support.

Councillor Neill Young is in charge of education for Portsmouth City Council.

He said: ‘It is disappointing to see a gap, but we are working to bridge it.

‘The pupil premium is there to give extra support for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

‘We are supporting schools to spend that money in the most appropriate way, and understand what a pupil’s need is.

‘This could be offering a child one-to-one support or bringing in extra staff.’

Mr Long said the difference between outcomes in Hampshire is even wider.

He said: ‘Hampshire has a problem tackling the gap between disadvantaged pupils and children who are advantaged.

‘In 2014, 61 per cent of pupils got five or more A* to C grades.

‘But disadvantaged children that figures is at 27 per cent.

‘We want to see more work being done to help those children who perhaps have specialised educational needs, who might not speak English as their first language. We need to see use of the pupil premium and excellent leadership from headteachers and school governors.’

Councillor Peter Edgar, in charge of education at Hampshire County Council, said: ‘It’s encouraging to see the vast majority of schools are continuing to provide children with such a high standard of education.

‘I would also like to take the opportunity to recognise the role of the authority in supporting and challenging schools in their sustained drive for improvement, and for the work our officers undertake to bring about rapid improvement where schools may be doing less well.’

The Ofsted report also showed that Portsmouth primary schools received 82 per cent of good or outstanding performances in Ofsted – ranking the authority 103 in the country.

At secondary school, 71 per cent achieve this outcome, putting the authority at 107.

In Hampshire 84 per cent achieved this, with a rank of 96, and at secondary level it was 83 per cent, putting them at 63 in the country.