A ‘culture of complacency’ and a collective failure by education and political leaders are to blame for the East Midlands having the worst performing schools in the country, the head of Ofsted has warned.
The education on offer to thousands of children in the region is “decidedly second division”, Sir Michael Wilshaw added.
The watchdog warned that the low standards in primary and secondary schools across the East Midlands had exposed the “educational fault line” dividing the north and south of the country.
According to the inspectorate, the East Midlands is currently the joint lowest performing Ofsted region in terms of inspection outcomes, with almost one in three secondary schools judged less than good at their last inspection.
The region had the worst GCSE results in England in 2015. Nearly 46 per cent of pupils did not achieve the benchmark five or more A* to C grades including English and maths.
Sir Michael said the 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,” he said.
“However, in many ways, the problems in this region symbolise more than anywhere else the growing educational divide between the South and the rest of England that I highlighted in my last Annual Report.”
Performance is equally poor in both the major urban centres and the more rural shire councils, Sir Michael added.
“National politicians and policymakers must start to worry more about what is happening north of the Wash. They should be asking why schools in large parts of the East Midlands aren’t doing better,” the former headteacher said.
While Leicester City Football Club were crowned Premier League champions this year, the city’s education standards are decidedly second division, he added.
“As Chief Inspector, 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.”
Sir Michael’s comments coincide with a letter from Ofsted East Midlands regional director Chris Russell to the main education players in Northamptonshire.
In it, Mr Russell writes that “too many” schools across all phases in Northamptonshire are not good enough.
“As a result, children do not achieve as well as they should. Disadvantaged children in the county are performing particularly poorly,” Mr Russell writes. “There needs to be greater oversight and co-ordinated action from those accountable for educational provision in the county.”