Report by Ofsted chief expected to highlight north-south divide.

‘The outgoing head of Ofsted is expected to highlight the performance gap between schools in the north and south of England in a report delivered on Thursday.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, who steps down as the watchdog's chief inspector this month after five years in the role, is due to identify improvements in overall standards, particularly in nurseries and primary schools.

However, his final report on the state of education in the UK is also expected to describe concerns about the quality of education in geographically and economically isolated parts of the country.

It is also expected that Sir Michael will point to the decline of the proportion of further education colleges rated good or outstanding.

Sir Michael has already raised concerns about secondary education, warning in his annual report last year that there is a "growing geographical divide" in standards after age 11 between the North, the Midlands and the South of England.’ - ITV News

In an interview with the BBC in Manchester, he said the economic future of the north of England relied on addressing the poor performance of some schools.

Sir Michael said the European Union referendum result had revealed a wider malaise, with communities feeling their needs were being ignored.

He said parents in Manchester, Liverpool and many towns in the North of England had less of a chance of seeing their children get a good job or go on to university than those in London.

"The situation is very, very serious. If you look at Manchester, the city we're in, nearly one in three schools [is] not good. In Liverpool, half are good. If you look at satellite towns, things are worse.

"It's feeding into a sense that the people of Liverpool, Manchester and the North are not being treated fairly - that their children have less of a chance of educational success than people south of the Wash.

"And that's feeding into a wider malaise that I sense with the Brexit vote, that actually this wasn't just about leaving Europe, it's about 'our needs being neglected, our children are not getting as good a deal as elsewhere'.

"Parents want to see their children doing well; they want to see them going off to university; they want to see them getting a good job.

"Well, they have less of a chance of that in this city, in Liverpool and elsewhere, and that feeds into this sense of discontent in the North and in the Midlands."

Sir Michael said addressing education must be a government priority.

He said: "If we have an educated workforce in the North, then that will feed into the wider economy in the North and the North will do well. It's not doing well at the moment."

The Ofsted annual report, published on Thursday morning, will highlight that overall standards are rising, with 1.8 million more pupils in good or outstanding maintained schools in 2016 than in 2010.

During this period, the curriculum and assessment regime has become more rigorous, it will say.

Other improvements include the fact that children on free schools meals are gaining ground on their peers in national primary tests.

But the report will also say that, to become truly world class, England needs:

  • high standards in education in every part the country
  • more teachers and leaders in those parts of the country where they are most needed
  • technical education that is on a par with academic education and that equips young people to be competitive in a post-Brexit world’ - BBC News

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