State schools failing to cultivate brightest pupils, says Ofsted chief

As predicted  a couple of days ago, Sir Michael Wilshaw has announced that the failure by state schools to nurture their brightest pupils is “an issue of national concern”, after an investigation found two-thirds of the most advanced pupils entering secondary education do not achieve top GCSE results. This is from the Guardian…

Ofsted proposes that maintained schools and academies devote more energy cultivating their brightest pupils, and that all pupils be given a new form of report card that tells parents how their children are performing in comparison with their peers nationally.

“Across the country we know that too many of our most able children are underperforming in state comprehensive schools. The national picture tells a discouraging story,” Wilshaw said at the launch of the report on Wednesday.

“Almost two-thirds of pupils who achieved a level five or above in both English and maths at the end of primary school did not get an A or A* grade in these subjects at GCSE in non-selective schools last year. That translates into more than 65,000 students in 2012. This is an important statistic because the top GCSE grades are a key predictor of success at A-level and progress to the most prestigious universities.”

The research came after a series of visits by Ofsted to 41 non-selective state schools throughout England, and the results of more than 2,000 lesson observations by its inspectors to see how the brightest pupils were dealt with in classrooms.

“Shockingly, some of the schools we visited had not even identified who their most able pupils were. This is completely unacceptable,” Wilshaw said. “Many students simply became used to performing at a lower level than they were capable of and this was too readily accepted by teachers.”…

The findings matched earlier research by the Sutton Trust charity that many state schools in England were failing to advance their pupils towards the most selective universities. Its chairman, Sir Peter Lampl, called the Ofsted report “a wake-up call to ministers”.

“Schools must improve their provision, as Ofsted recommends. But the government should play its part too by providing funding to trial the most effective ways to enable our brightest young people to fulfil their potential.,” Lampl said…

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, welcomed the report but said that “the government’s league table culture deserves a measure of the blame”.

“For too long, schools have been forced into the middle ground, to get students over thresholds at the expense of both the most and least able,” Hobby said.

More at:  State schools failing to cultivate brightest pupils, says Ofsted chief

Do you think comprehensive schools are failing their brightest students? If so, is Russell Hobby right in pointing the blame at the thresholds used for league tables? Do you think the new report cards will make a difference? What would you recommend changing to ensure bright pupils fulfil their potential? Please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments below, on Twitter or by using this form 

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Categories: Secondary.


  1. acet2001

    SchoolsImprove Is there a single day that goes by without the teaching profession being criticised? Who would ever wish to teach nowadays?

  2. edujdw

    SchoolsImprove clearly the ‘wrong sort of kids’ were getting the A* grades as we were told there were too many given, hence exam reforms!

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