By Eleanor Harding for the Daily Mail
Amanda Spielman said Ofsted would try not to be ‘biased’ against schools in poorer areas
Working class communities often lack the aspiration of migrant families because they have borne the brunt of ‘economic dislocation’, the head of Ofsted said yesterday.
Amanda Spielman said a lack of ambition in many regional towns was the reason for schools in those areas under-performing.
She said this may be because the areas had been left behind by the prosperity of London and the South East – which incidentally also have large migrant populations. However, she hit back at those who claim these schools should be shown leniency from Ofsted, saying she would continue to inspect ‘without fear or favour’.
Speaking at the Wellington College Festival of Education in Berkshire yesterday, Mrs Spielman said research from the regulator had shown some areas had worse-rated schools than others.
‘We can’t pretend that Ofsted judgments are not lower in certain areas – many of them with a high proportion of white working class children. But that shouldn’t surprise us. Over the past few years, there has been a long overdue debate about white working class communities in England, and why they have fallen behind.
‘We are having to grapple with the unhappy fact that many local working class communities have felt the full brunt of economic dislocation in recent years, and, perhaps as a result, can lack the aspiration and drive seen in many migrant communities.’
Mrs Spielman said pupils from white working schools lack drive. Stock picture of a classroom
Mrs Spielman said schools in isolated regional towns faced problems recruiting teachers and getting any academy chains to sponsor them.
England is one of a handful of countries that shows marked differences in teacher qualifications and experience between advantaged and disadvantaged schools, she said.
But she added: ‘Our job is to report without fear or favour on the quality of education as we see it in these areas.
‘That is explicitly not the same as saying that teachers in these areas are putting in any less effort or that the leadership is worse.
‘There is no doubt that these schools have a harder job to do than others. And we should be just as interested in why some schools in more affluent areas aren’t doing better. I have nothing but admiration for the teachers who make it their mission to tackle disadvantage. But the overall effectiveness of a school is not an effort grade.’
Mrs Spielman did say Ofsted would try hard not to be ‘biased’ against schools in poorer areas.
And she added that it was important to highlight issues in schools rather than ‘pretend everything is rosy’ because this allowed changes to be implemented.
Mrs Spielman’s comments come after data showed white working class boys were the least likely to go to university. Experts say migrant families and those with migrant backgrounds may be more aspirational because of their culture and emphasis on success.