Schools are failing brightest pupils: More than 40% of comprehensive schools are not challenging the most able, Ofsted warns

 

Too many comprehensive schools are failing to get the best out of their brightest pupils, chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, will say today.

A survey of non-selective state secondary schools by education standards watchdog Ofsted found that more than 40 per cent  were failing to help the most able pupils achieve their potential.

Almost two-thirds (65,000) of those who achieved top grades (level five) in English and maths national curriculum tests at 11 failed to go on and get the A* or A grade at GCSE in the subjects that was expected of them.

In addition, data showed that hundreds of secondary schools failed to produce a single student with high enough grades at A-level in the subjects usually required the most prestigious universities - such as those in the Russell Group.

Sir Michael described the findings as “shocking” and added: “What we can’t have is a continuation of this. We can’t have our brightest and best pupils doing so badly in the non-selective state system.”

Sir Michael said “the most shocking finding” was that - in some schools - teachers were not even aware which of their pupils were the brightest. “Shockingly. some of the schools we visited had not even identified who their most able students were,” he added.

The inspectors found that - in mixed ability classes in particular teachers were not stretching the brightest pupils. “I’d have setting (teaching pupils in different ability groups for different subjects) from the word ‘go’ (in secondary schools),” he added.

Mixed ability teaching did not work, he added, unless the teachers concerned were able to differentiate between the different ability strands.

Figures showed that - whilst 100 independent and grammar schools were responsible for more than 10 per cent of successful applicants to Oxbridge - the 41 schools visited for the report had only sent 16 pupils. Only one of those had been entitled to free school meals.

“These outcomes are unacceptable in an increasingly competitive world,” said Sir Michael. “If we are to succeed as an economy and society, we have to make more of our most able young people.

“We need them to become the political, commercial and professional leaders of tomorrow,  Predictably, the able students who are most likely to underachieve are those from the poorer backgrounds.

“Too many non-selective schools are failing to nurture scholastic excellence.  While the best of these schools provide excellent opportunities, many of our most able students receive mediocre provision. Put simply, they are not doing well enough because their secondary schools fail to challenge and support them sufficiently from the beginning.”

He added: “It is a serious concern that many non-selective schools fail to imbue their most able students with the confidence and high ambition that characterise many students in the selective or independent sector.”

However, he stressed: “This is not an attack on comprehensive education or a praise of grammar schools. This is about ensuring our comprehensive system does better for our more able students,

“As somebody who has worked in comprehensive schools in difficult areas, I want to see our system do better.”

Sir Michael was headteacher of Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, east London - which replaced the failing Hackney Downs school - and got ten pupils Oxbridge offers in its first year of A-levels.

The report urges schools to provide annual reports to parents on their brightest pupils - spelling out whether they are doing as well as they are capable of.  Sir Michael agreed reports had been too bland in the past and needed to be more blunt,  “We urge schools to be more prescriptive in what they do now,” Sir Michael said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Opilio Recruitment: Market Entry Analyst

£50k - 60k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A successful Google join...

Opilio Recruitment: International Development Manager

£60k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A successful Google joint vent...

Opilio Recruitment: Apprentice Advisor - IT

£30k - 34k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

h2 Recruit Ltd: New Business Sales Manager - Talent Management - £60,000 OTE

£35000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A true market leader in ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game