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Wilshaw attacks 'culture of complacency' in East Midlands education

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A collective failure by education and political leaders in the East Midlands has exposed an “educational fault line dividing the nation”, England’s chief inspector of schools has said.

Sir Michael Wilshaw

Sir Michael Wilshaw

Sir Michael Wilshaw

Sir Michael Wilshaw today said key indicators had shown schools in the region were failing children across all phases of education and blamed a “culture of complacency” and “lack of clear accountability”.

He argued academy trust leaders, alongside senior council officials and management, had failed to tackle “mediocre provision and a culture of low expectations”.

The region had the worst GCSE results in England in 2015, with three-quarters of children eligible for schools failing to achieve five A* to C grades including English and Maths. This percentage falls to 10% for children in care.

Leicester City Council was highlighted as the poorest performing local authority in the country for early years development, while Nottingham and Derby City Councils were ranked in the lowest 10% for GCSE attainment.

Sir Michael said: “These statistics should serve as a wake-up call. The poor quality of education in many parts of the East Midlands often passes under the radar as attention is focused on underperformance in the bigger cities of the North and West Midlands, like Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.”

His comments came as Ofsted’s regional director for the East Midlands, Chris Russell, published a damning open letter to education leaders in Northamptonshire, where almost all primary and secondary schools are academies.

Mr Russell said there were weaknesses in provision in all phases of education.

He added: “This applies particularly to disadvantaged children in the county, who are underachieving as a group.

“There needs to be greater oversight and coordinated action from those accountable for educational provision in the county.”

Sir Michael called on politicians and policymakers to “worry more about what is happening north of the wash”.

He added: “They should be asking why schools in large parts of the East Midlands aren’t doing better. 

“I am calling on local politicians across the region to do significantly more to challenge and support their local schools, regardless of whether they are academies or under local authority control.”

George Osborne announced in the budget in March that £20 million a year would be invested in a Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy. 

No response had been received from East Midlands councils at the time of writing.

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