Bright pupils cheated by ‘lack of scholarship’ in schools

The average pupil loses 38 days of teaching a year due to disruption in the classroom

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The Independent Online

A lack of “scholarship” in secondary schools is ruining the prospects of the country’s most able pupils, the education standards watchdog has warned.

Ofsted’s annual report revealed almost two-thirds of pupils in comprehensive schools who scored highly in English and maths tests as 11‑year-olds failed to get an A* or A grade pass in the subjects at GCSE. One in four did not even get a B grade.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief schools inspector, said: “Imagine how dispiriting it must be for a child to arrive at a secondary school bursting with enthusiasm and keen to learn – only to be forced to repeat lessons already learnt and endure teaching that fails to stimulate.”

Sir Michael linked the “lack of scholarship” to worsening pupil behaviour in schools: the proportion of schools where behaviour and safety was judged good or outstanding fell 7 percentage points between 2012/13 and 2013/14. “This means that over 400,000 pupils attend a secondary school where behaviour is poor,” added the report.

“Inspectors found far too many instances of pupils gossiping, calling out without permission, using their mobiles, being slow to start work or follow instructions, or failing to bring the right equipment to class.

“While these are minor infractions in themselves, cumulatively they create a hubbub of interference that makes teaching and learning difficult and sometimes impossible.”

Inspectors estimated the average pupil lost 38 days of teaching a year because of disruption in the classroom.

The number of failing secondary schools was up by 50 on the previous year, the report said. In all, 170,000 pupils were taught in inadequate secondary schools – 70,000 up on two years ago.

Sir Michael backed the stance of the Bradford head who was criticised for sending 150 pupils home for uniform infringements dubbed “minor” in the media.

“All she was doing was reminding children, and just as importantly their parents, that there were rules and that if youngsters wanted to study at her school they had to abide by those rules,” he said.

The report also criticised sixth-form provision, saying: “Where sixth-forms are very small, they frequently offer too narrow a range of subjects or teach those subjects poorly.

“Students in small sixth-forms achieve considerably poorer results than those in larger sixth-forms.”