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Good education depends on where you live

Sir Michael Wilshaw's report finds 70% of English schools are good or outstanding, but this 'disguises unequal opportunities'.

Access to a good education for children and young people is "far too dependent on where you happen to live", the new chief inspector of Ofsted has said as he published a first annual report that finds rising standards overall but is withering about the significant differences between areas.

Across the whole of England 70% of schools are rated good or outstanding, against 64% five years ago, noted Sir Michael Wilshaw, formerly head of Mossbourne academy in Hackney, repeatedly highlighted by Michael Gove as a beacon for schools in deprived areas, who took over at Ofsted in January.

However, he wrote in the report, this headline figure "disguises the highly unequal opportunities" faced by students between regions, by no means all of them attributable to socio-economic factors.
Wilshaw particularly highlighted discrepancies in primary education, noting that while pupils in some areas had a more than 90% chance of going to a school rated good or better, in other regions this plummeted to below 50%.

Ofsted plans to implement a league table that will rank local authorities according to the organisation's ratings of their schools.

"Access to good education and training is far too dependent on where you happen to live," Wilshaw said. "This is really unacceptable. A child's chances of getting into a good or better school are twice as good in some local authority areas than in others."

While wealth plays a significant part – closing the gap in attainment between rich and poor "remains a national priority", Wilshaw said – it did not explain everything. Oxfordshire, he wrote in the report, by no means one of England's poorest boroughs, is near the bottom for its proportion of pupils in good primaries.


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