Out in the cold: the coastal schools neglected by national initiatives

The Guardian has a report on educational establishments at seaside outposts which, it suggests, face host of problems, including staff recruitment and retention…

At Clacton Coastal academy (CCA), the pupils are proud of their town and their school. They are fed up with The Only Way is Essex and upset by some of the sneering coverage the recent byelection attracted to their town.

Lots of them are ambitious; many want to go to university. Yet the challenges facing children here are great, and the barriers to educational achievement are many. More than half of the pupils at CCA attract the pupil premium, which provides additional funding to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

Children are trying to learn amid poverty, deprivation, high unemployment and poor housing, amid a fluid and unstable population. The level of special educational needs and disability are well above the national average; and, geographically, it feels isolated – the railway line ends at Clacton, then it’s the North Sea.

This is a largely white working class population – a demographic that across the country is now among the most educationally disadvantaged. And they live in the areas being targeted by Ukip.

Clacton-on-Sea shares such features with other fading seaside resorts that have lost much of their tourism – and therefore wealth – to foreign travel. But while schools in London and other deprived urban areas have been successfully turned around thanks to big investment, schools on the coast have been overlooked by national initiatives that have raised standards elsewhere…

Dr Tanya Ovenden-Hope has been conducting research into coastal academies for Plymouth University, focusing on six schools around the country, and says staff recruitment and retention are a major problem. “These areas have high unemployment and there’s real disadvantage. You are trying to attract high-calibre teachers, but what employment is there for a spouse?”

Another common feature is the lack of parental engagement in the school. Many parents will have had a poor educational experience themselves and will have left with few qualifications. Ovenden-Hope’s research suggests that expectations among the children of those parents are now rising, says Ovenden-Hope, and it’s certainly evident at CCA. “There’s an expectation that they will achieve now, and that’s a real mindset change.”

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools who has highlighted the plight of isolated seaside schools, was in Norfolk last week where he once again mentioned the problems of coastal deprivation, small schools and teacher recruitment and retention…

More at: Out in the cold: the coastal schools neglected by national initiatives

 

Are you involved in a school in a coastal area like Clacton? If so, do you recognise the kind of issues discussed here? Is there a feeling of the school and community being left out of the kind of initiatives that have been instigated in bigger urban areas and, in your opinion, what help is most needed now? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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