In particular, Wilshaw highlighted the disparity in achievement between pupils eligible for free school meals and those who are not in some of the more affluent parts of the country. He said that the poorest pupils had been let down due to a whole range of factors:
The failure of politicians on all sides to address the issue effectively.
A group within education who he referred to as “structural vandals, those who argue that children don’t need structure in school”. This, he contends, disproportionately impacts on poorer children as “a rule-based classroom culture helps compensate for a chaotic home life”.
Failure to develop pathways for pupils who would benefit from a technical education. He advocates flexibility in the curriculum and proposes that every multi academy trust should include a University Technical College. The latter have not, however, been a universal success with several having to close.
Disparity in access to experienced and well-qualified teachers between deprived and more affluent areas; within areas with selective schools, this is compounded by the more experienced and better qualified teachers being more often found in grammar schools (this has also been the subject of a blog by Education Datalab’s Dr Rebecca Allen this week).
Similarly, a lack of strong school leaders in schools that serve challenging or deprived communities.
Sir Michael’s tenure as HMCI will come to an end in December. The DfE has recommended Amanda Spielman as his successor and she was due to appear before the Education Select Committee on Wednesday 29 June as the next stage in the appointment process.