Brightest pupils failed by state schools, chief inspector warns

The country’s brightest pupils are being held back by comprehensives which fail to push them to achieve the top grades needed for the best universities, the chief inspector of schools has warned. This is from the Telegraph…

Sir Michael Wilshaw has ordered an urgent “rapid response survey” of how state schools teach the most able children. It will be the most extensive investigation of gifted and talented provision undertaken by the watchdog.

The “landmark” report, to be published in the spring, will address fears that children who get top marks in primary school are being let down by some secondary school teachers who leave them to coast rather than stretch them to achieve the best exam results.

The report was disclosed after league tables showed that hundreds of secondary schools did not produce a single pupil with high enough grades in tough academic subjects to win a place at elite universities.

Inspectors will investigate concerns that bright pupils who are taught in mixed ability classes are failing to be stretched and that schools are entering clever children too early for GCSE exams so that they gain only the C grades that count in league tables and are not pushed to the full extent of their abilities.

Sir Michael said the big disparity in admissions to Oxford and Cambridge, where a small number of mainly independent schools sent more students to the universities than thousands of state secondaries was “a nonsense” that must be addressed.

He said that comprehensive schools had to learn lessons from independent and selective schools on how to realise the early promise of the most able children.

“I am concerned that our most able pupils are not doing as well as they should be,” Sir Michael said.

“Are schools pushing them in the way they should be pushed and are pushed in the independent sector and in the selective system?

“The statistic that four independent schools and a very prestigious six form college are sending more youngsters to Oxbridge than 2,000 state secondary schools is a nonsense. When the history of comprehensive education is written people need to say that they did as well by the most able pupils as they did by the least able.”

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