A report by the Education Policy Institute has revealed shocking attainment gaps for children from disadvantaged backgrounds educated on the Isle of Wight.
The report reveals that Island children from disadvantaged backgrounds will leave school with the educational attainment almost two and a half years behind their national peers.
It states that on the Isle of Wight,
Disadvantaged pupils are well over two years (29 months) behind their peers by the end of secondary school.
The gap (in months) has been measured by comparing the attainment of disadvantaged pupils from the Isle of Wight at the end of their secondary school education, against the national average attainment for non-disadvantaged pupils.
Control removed from IWC
Children’s Services on the Isle of Wight was rated as Indequate by Ofsted during the 2009-2013 IWC Conservative administration.
The same administration chose to carry out a massive reorganisation of the Island’s school system, changing from three tier to two tier – labelled by many at the time as a mistake (too fast).
The Ofsted rating led to a directive from Government forcing the Isle of Wight to hand over control of children’s services and education to another authority.
Just over four years ago a partnership agreement with Hampshire County Council was signed.
Not enough improvement
Although many improvements have been made in that time (IWC moved out up from Inadequate status in less than two years), not enough change had been made to avoid the Island having the largest gap for those from disadvantaged backgrounds leaving secondary school.
Stewart: Acknowledges “children have been badly let down”
Leader of the Isle of Wight council, Cllr Dave Stewart, who was a member of the Isle of Wight council Cabinet when the damning Ofsted report was delivered in 2013, said today,
“As the new Conservative administration of the Isle of Wight Council, elected in May, we have acknowledged that in the past our children have been badly let down.
“We have set out in detail our school improvement plans in our recent publication Delivering Educational Excellence and are determined that over the next four years all our schools will be good or outstanding.”
Disadvantage gap “entrenched for generations”
Looking at the national picture, the report concludes,
“There has been some progress in closing the gap for disadvantaged pupils in England over the last decade. It has not, however, been either fast, or consistent.
“It remains the case that, on average, a disadvantaged pupil falls two months behind their peers for each year of their time at secondary school and, by the end of school, that disadvantaged pupil is almost two years behind.
“This is not a new societal problem. The disadvantage gap has been entrenched in our education
system for generations.”
New intense project to be launched
Cllr Stewart added,
“Our Hampshire officers recently worked with Ofsted to feed in their experience to a new toolkit on working with disadvantaged children, which has been sent to every school in Southern England.
“They will also shortly be launching with us an intense project, focussing on disadvantage, that has been developed using national research.”
Andre: Our children deserve high quality education
Education spokesperson for the Island Independents Group, Cllr Debbie Andre, said,
“This is an issue that affects not only the Island, but many areas around the country, which were also highlighted in the report such as Darlington, Derby, Luton, South Tyneside and Thurrock. There are common factors that affect performance such as child poverty, lack of affordable housing, poor standards of physical and mental health and job insecurity.
“The government’s austerity measures and welfare reforms, which have increased the social divide, have had the effect of disadvantaging families at the lower end of the pay scale.
“We need government to recognise teachers for the professionals that they are, not only in terms of pay structure, but in giving them the resources that they need to deliver the high quality of education that our children deserve.”
Full details can be found in the report below.