Schools in Yorkshire lag behind national average in Ofsted report - with poorest areas the worst affected

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Children in Yorkshire are being "denied a good start in life" as schools in the region are still behind the national average, Ofsted's annual report reveals.

Primary and secondary schools in some of county's worst-affected areas for child poverty are far behind similar schools elsewhere in England, a finding which MP Naz Shah has called "a tragedy".

Schools in Yorkshire may have generally improved over the past year, but are still behind the national average according to Ofsted findings released on Tuesday

Schools in Yorkshire may have generally improved over the past year, but are still behind the national average according to Ofsted findings released on Tuesday

Education watchdog Ofsted released its findings for schools, nurseries and children's services across the region on Tuesday morning.

Results revealed that while schools in Yorkshire & the Humber had generally improved over the last year, the figure for those rated 'outstanding' or 'good' was still behind the national average, and that schools in the region's poorest towns and cities were the furthest behind.

Some 82 per cent of the region's schools were given either of the top two ratings, which fell a step behind England's figure of 87 per cent.

Both primary and secondary institutions in Bradford were outlined as falling behind similar schools across the rest of the country, while Doncaster primary schools and Barnsley secondary schools also lagged behind.

A school in Leeds, where services have been rated as 'outstanding' by Ofsted

A school in Leeds, where services have been rated as 'outstanding' by Ofsted

Though Bradford schools have generally improved, the city's MP's have blamed austerity and cuts for "limiting children's opportunities in life".

Around half of children in the Bradford East and West constituencies were living in relative poverty, according to government data released last year.

Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West where around 47 per cent of children are in relative poverty, said: “Years of austerity have left Bradford worst affected by child poverty. It is a tragedy that those who already face adverse effects from austerity and poverty also have their opportunities in life limited due to failing schools.

"During the election campaign, I highlighted the shortfall in school funding cuts that Bradford schools face directly as a result of Conservative policies. These policies are having a direct impact on the lives of our young people.

Bradford West MP Naz Shah has said that children missing out on opportunities in their education a "tragedy"

Bradford West MP Naz Shah has said that children missing out on opportunities in their education a "tragedy"

"I will be highlighting this and lobbying against this in Parliament, as well as working with the local council to see how we can work to improve schools locally.”

Ms Shah's comments were echoed by Bradford East MP Imran Khan, who said teachers were being forced to "rely on handouts from parents" and that lack of funding was "preventing children from achieving their potential".

He said: “As we approach the Spring 2019 Budget, the government must now urgently set out how they will reverse the deeply damaging cuts that they have inflicted on our schools, and they must make a categorical commitment to extending the Northern Schools Strategy to boost educational attainment across Bradford and across the North.”

Meanwhile, between 34 and 37 per cent of young people in the Doncaster Central, Doncaster North and Barnsley East constituencies were also classified as living in poverty last year.

A Doncaster Council spokeswoman said despite "significant improvements" since 2017 in reading, maths and writing, it acknowledged there was "still much to do" and was working hard to reduce the numbers of pupil exclusions and absences.

Barnsley ranked bottom of the list for the region's secondary schools, with less than half (40 per cent) rated as 'good' or 'outstanding'.

Despite this however, children in Barnsley ranked higher than the Yorkshire average for reading and maths skills.

Coun Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for Barnsley Council's Children’s Services, said: “We support and challenge all schools in Barnsley to help them achieve ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ ratings. We know there is more work to be done, but we will continue to work in partnership in the Barnsley School Alliance to achieve our shared goal that every child can achieve their full potential.

“Barnsley Council has 39 local authority schools; 34 of which are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’. This is 87.2 per cent, which matches the average for England.”

Ofsted's Regional Director for Yorkshire & the Humber, Emma Ing, said the disappointing numbers meant children were "being denied a good start in life".

She said: "Our secondary schools have improved, but the quality is patchy both for secondary and primary schools across the region.

"While most schools in North Lincolnshire are at least good, primary schools in Bradford and Doncaster and secondary schools in Doncaster and Barnsley are much weaker than similar schools nationally. And this makes a difference for children.

"Going to a good school gets you to a really good place, gives you a good start in life that these children are being denied."

Bradford Council has re-iterated that schools, in general, have improved, and that authorities are working hard to bring education services in line with the rest of the region.

Coun Imran Khan, portfolio holder for education, employment and skills, said: “What the report from Ofsted shows is that there has been some improvement in Bradford schools compared to the previous year.

"This is particularly the case with primaries where the Ofsted data shows we have seen a 4% improvement. This reflects recent primary school tables which also showed the overall position for reading, writing and maths closing the gap on the national average.

"But we know there is much more to do, and our ambition as a district has to be for all our schools to be good or outstanding.”