Poorer families are four times more likely to send their children to “inadequate” or “failing” schools, official figures have revealed.
As thousands of parents find out at which school their child will be allocated a place, a charity has warned that children from wealthier backgrounds have a much better chance of securing a place at desirable schools.
Imran Hussain, Director of Policy for Child Poverty Action Group, said: “It is simply unacceptable low-income families find it much harder to access the best-performing schools. We have to ensure admissions processes are open and fair and that parents are properly supported in helping to make the right choices for their children.”
While the government has sought to highlight that 1.4million more children are now attending “good” or “outstanding” primary and secondary schools, the findings have revealed that poorer families are still four times more likely to have to send their child to a primary school which “requires improvement” or has been deemed “inadequate” by Ofsted inspectors.
Teaching groups including the NAWSUT have criticised government education strategies surrounding school overcapacity and labelled the current climate for primary school place allocation “unacceptable”.
Chris Keates, General Secretary for the NASUWT said: “Too many parents today will be facing deep anxiety about finding a place in a primary school for their children. They are the victims of a system of school place planning and admissions that in the last few years has become increasingly chaotic as a result of Government policy which is fragmenting the education system.”
“A public education system should provide basic educational entitlements for all children and young people”, she added. “One such entitlement is a place in a good local school.
“Instead parents and children face disappointment and frustration as a result of the lack of coherent local place planning.
“But even where places may be available, too many parents and children, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, face selection by stealth because of the Government’s failure to ensure compliance with the fair admissions code.”
The news comes amid reports that as many as one in four primary schools are guilty of “social segregation”, rejecting children from disadvantaged backgrounds in favour of higher-income families.
Last year, Government statistics from the Valuation Office Agency highlighted that in areas such as Stockport, Trafford and Warrington, just one in 20 outstanding schools served a typically lower income area.
The founder and CEO of Teach First, Brett Wigdortz, said: “Every parent wants the best for their child, but as the costs of housing have soared over the years, parents from low income backgrounds face an unequal choice to ensure that their children’s school offers what’s best for them. Outstanding schools are unfairly concentrated in areas of wealth.”
The group has appealed for more teachers to being training in lower income areas, pointing out the “stark contrasts” in school performance across the country.