Education chief hits out at schools' 'lack of ambition'

Melinda Tilley

Melinda Tilley

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

SOME people in the county’s schools don’t have enough ambition for their pupils, Oxfordshire’s education chief has claimed.

It comes as figures show that Oxfordshire has failed to meet its target for improving the attainment gap between pupils receiving free school meals and those who don’t.

There are around 540 secondary school pupils receiving free school meals because their parents are given payments such as income support or jobseekers’ allowance.

Figures show that there is a gap of 33 per cent between the average GCSE scores of children who do get free school meals and those that do not, two per cent worse than the previous year. This is significantly larger than Oxfordshire’s target gap of 26 per cent and county councillor Melinda Tilley, the cabinet member for education, called it “shocking”.

She said: “We need to work on this and I think it is all to do with a lack of aspiration in some educational establishments. They think some children are not worth the trouble and we need to shift that quite dramatically.

“I don’t want to pick out anybody in particular but if we don’t have aspiration for these children where are they going to get it?

“Two years ago we set up aspiration networks between good or outstanding schools which go into schools that require improvement and show that what good or outstanding looks like.

“I don’t think we are ambitious enough for children in the care system. ”

Figures show that the gap in Oxfordshire in 2013 was 33 per cent compared to 27 per cent nationally – this means the gap has become wider from 2012 when it was 31 per cent, compared to 26 per cent nationally.

There were 35,910 secondary school pupils this year.

In April ,a report showed 70 per cent of county youngsters whose parents receive benefits are leaving school without five GCSEs at A* to C, including English and maths, compared to 62 per cent nationally.

The Oxford Times:

Lynn Knapp.

Windmill Primary School headteacher Lynn Knapp said: “I think we do have to have really high expectations of all children and that really does make a difference.

“Sometimes you do hear of lower ability children not being able to do things but if you give them a chance they could. Parents do this as well, such as saying their child won’t be very good at maths, and the child believes it.”

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