Poor children are more likely to go to inadequate primary schools, research reveals

As more than half a million children receive their offers of primary school places, new research reveals that those from disadvantaged families are much more likely than their wealthy counterparts to go to an inadequate school

Children from disadvantaged families are four times as likely to go to an inadequate primary school or one that requires improvement, compared with children from wealthier families, new research shows.

And poor children are half as likely as wealthy children to go to an outstanding primary school, according to a study conducted by Teach First.

Today, more than half a million children will receive offers of primary school places. To coincide with this, Teach First has analysed the schools available to children around the country.

The charity says its research reveals that, because it is harder for schools serving low-income communities to achieve higher ratings from Ofsted, parents from these communities are less likely to be able to choose to send their children to a good or outstanding school.

Socially selective

For example, the research shows that Blackpool does not have a single outstanding primary. The Isle of Wight and Thurrock have only one such school each.

And in some areas, including Bradford and Kent, one in three schools serving the poorest 20 per cent of postcodes has been judged by Ofsted to require improvement.

These findings follow the revelation last week that more than 1,500 primary schools have highly socially selective intakes.

A report published by the Sutton Trust charity revealed that many disadvantaged pupils were missing out on places at high-performing primaries because their parents struggled to navigate complicated admissions criteria.

And analysis conducted by the FindASchool website revealed that it had become harder to get into primary schools – regardless of the Ofsted rating – over the past five years.

‘Challenges that must not be ignored’

Brett Wigdortz, chief executive of Teach First, said: “We know that primary teachers are doing an incredible job of supporting their pupils. But for children from poorer backgrounds, there are challenges that must not be ignored.”

Meanwhile, the Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the government to clarify how councils will be expected to provide enough places for all pupils, once every school has converted to an academy.

The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, says that, under the proposals put forward in the new schools White Paper, councils will retain their responsibility to make sure every child has a school place.

But, from 2022, when all schools are expected to be academies or free schools, local authorities will have no powers to force schools to expand to meet the area’s demands.

It is estimated that an additional 336,000 primary places will be needed by 2024.

Roy Perry, chairman of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Most academies will be keen to work with their local authorities. But in the minority of situations where this isn’t the case, appropriate powers are vital to ensure all children get a suitable place.”

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