Failing education standards in some parts of England have contributed to the feelings of discontent that led towards the Brexit result, the chief inspector of schools has said.
Outgoing Ofsted boss, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said while standards were rising overall, there were still a worrying number of poorly performing schools in the north and East Midlands that were contributing towards the sense of a divided nation.
The decision to leave the European Union was therefore connected to “resentment” felt by some poorer communities over the north-south divide in the education system, he added.
Speaking to the BBC ahead of Ofsted’s annual report, Sir Michael said: “The situation is very, very serious,” he said. “If you look at Manchester… nearly one in three schools [is] not good. In Liverpool, half are good. If you look at satellite towns, things are worse.
“It's feeding into a sense that the people of Liverpool, Manchester and the North are not being treated fairly - that their children have less of a chance of educational success than people south of the Wash.
”And that's feeding into a wider malaise that I sense with the Brexit vote, that actually this wasn't just about leaving Europe, it's about our needs being neglected, our children are not getting as good a deal as elsewhere.
The Ofsted chief added that he had been “amazed and shocked” by documents leaked to the BBC this week showing that the Home Office wanted to “deprioritise” the children of parents unlawfully in the UK for school places.
He added: “Schools should not be used for border control.”
The comments follow concerns raised over the controversial new census requiring schools to provide details on pupil nationality and birthplace.
In his last official public engagement before stepping down as the watchdog's chief inspector later this month, Sir Michael told Parliament that the gap in standards was of particular concern among secondary schools.
UK news in pictures
UK news in pictures
1/20 26 June 2017
A festival-goer sleeps outside their tent at the end of the Glastonbury Festival of Music and Performing Arts on Worthy Farm near the village of Pilton in Somerset, South West England
2/20 26 June 2017
Canadian Captain Megan Couto (C) leading out troops of the Second Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry from Wellington Barracks heading for the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace in central London. Media reports state that Megan Couto, will be at the head of some 40 Canadian soldiers along with the Royal Canadian Artillery Band at the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace becoming the first female soldier in history to become Captain of the Guard. Canadian soldiers are serving as the Queen's Guard as sentries at Buckingham Palace, St. James's Palace, the Tower of London and Windsor Castle until 03 July 2017. Queen Elizabeth II invited Canada to send troops take part in the ceremonial duties in 2017 marking 150 years since Canadian Confederation
3/20 26 June 2017
Residents leave their home on the Taplow Block on the Chalcots Estate on June 26, 2017 in London, England. Residents of the Chalcots Estate have been urged to leave their homes due to fire safety fears in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Four of the five Chalcots Estate towers in Camden, North London, are being evacuated after they were found to have similar cladding to that on Grenfell, attributed to contributing to the rapid spread of the blaze last week that killed at least 79 people
4/20 25 June 2017
Police officers on Romford Road in Forest Gate, east London, as people protest over the death of Edir Frederico Da Costa, who died on June 21 six days after he was stopped in a car by Metropolitan Police officers in Woodcocks, Beckton, in Newham, east London
5/20 24 June 2017
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn addresses revellers from the Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm in Somerset during the Glastonbury Festival
6/20 23 June 2017
British Prime Minister Theresa May addresses a news conference at the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 23, 2017
7/20 22 June 2017
Cosplay fans (L-R) George Massingham, Abbey Forbes and Karolina Goralik travel by tube dressed in Harry Potter themed costumes, after a visit to one the literary franchise's movie filming locations at Leadenhall Market in London, Britain
8/20 22 June 2017
Racegoers cheer on their horse on Ladies Day at the Royal Ascot horse racing meet, in Ascot, west of London
9/20 21 June 2017
A reveller walks among the tipi tents at the Glastonbury Festival of Music and Performing Arts on Worthy Farm near the village of Pilton in Somerset, South West England
10/20 20 June 2017
A police officer lays some flowers passed over by a member of the public, close to Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, after one man died and eight people were taken to hospital and a person arrested after a rental van struck pedestrian
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Two women embrace in Borough Market, which officially re-opens today following the recent attack, in central London
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attends the re-opening of Borough market in central London following the June 3 terror attack
People walk through Borough Market in central London following its re-opening after the June 3 terror attack
News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, with one of his daughters, visit Borough Market, which officially re-opened today following the recent attack
A woman reacts in front of a wall of messages in Borough Market, which officially re-opened today following the recent attack, in central London
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Richard Arnold, Roy Larner, Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on 'Good Morning Britain'
20/20 11 June 2017
England players celebrate after defeating Venezuela 1-0 to win the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea 2017 at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, South Korea
Furthermore, the knowledge and skills gap found is threatening the country’s productivity in a competitive market, he said, particularly in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Referring to those who had voted to leave the EU, he said the issue “feeds into a sense that somehow they're not getting a fair crack of the whip.
“They sense that somehow their children are not going to get as great a deal as youngsters in London and the South of England.
”If they sense that their children and young people are going to be denied the opportunities that exist elsewhere, that feeds into a general sense that they're being neglected.
“It wasn't just about leaving the European Union and immigration, it was that sense of a disconnection with Westminster.
”If they feel that their needs are being ignored, that their children are not getting the sort of education that others in the South are, then they will feel resentful.“
He said regions that are already less prosperous than the South are in danger of adding a learning deficit to their economic one.
He added: ”Recent political history shows what can happen when large parts of the population feel alienated because they feel they are not being dealt with fairly.“
The Ofsted annual report, published on Thursday morning, highlights that overall standards are rising, with 1.8m more pupils in good or outstanding maintained schools in 2016 than in 2010.
During this period, the curriculum and assessment regime had become more rigorous and children from poor backgrounds were gaining ground on their peers in national primary tests.
But to become truly world class, the report said England needed to have high standards in education in every part the country, helped by the recruitment of more teachers and leaders in in the right areas.
It also highlighted the poor quality of education in the more geographically and economically isolated parts of the country, including coastal areas.
In a statement referencing official figures released last week, School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: ”Good and outstanding schools now make up 89% of all schools inspected in England, with the proportion of primary and secondary schools in this category continuing to rise in every region of the country, including in the North and the Midlands.
“We want every child to have access to an excellent education, regardless of their background or where they live.
”We know there is more to do, and that's precisely why we have set out plans to make more good school places available, to more parents, in more parts of the country - including scrapping the ban on new grammar school places, and harnessing the resources and expertise of universities, independent and faith schools."Reuse content