Ofsted’s blog: Insight from the East Midlands region

19th October 2016 at 16:52

Simon Hollingsworth, HMI, introduces a new webinar on raising the achievement of white British working class disadvantaged children


If you’re a school leader based in the East Midlands and looking for inspiration in tackling the underachievement of white British disadvantaged pupils, why not schedule a webinar with Ofsted’s team in the region.

At Ofsted we’re keen to share our insight from inspections. One way we do this is through webinars. These virtual seminars, conducted online, reach out to the profession in a way that’s convenient and cost-effective; offering the opportunity to engage without leaving your desk.

In this new webinar, we challenge school leaders to consider the achievement of disadvantaged pupils in their own school and how they might overcome the causes of under-performance. It covers examples of practice from schools that have successfully raised disadvantaged pupils’ achievement. And there’s a range of strategies used by schools in the East Midlands region to help resolve the causes of underachievement, with an emphasis on the barriers to pupils’ engagement with their learning.

The webinar sets out to dispel the myth that disadvantaged pupils lack aspiration. It focuses on the existence of a ‘poverty of expectation’ where disadvantaged pupils’ aspirations are worn down by many, varied barriers, and on the obstacles that block their route to success. It looks at four key causes of underachievement for children and young people:


  • physical barriers – home circumstances, diet, lifestyle and physical development
  • emotional barriers – factors in the child’s upbringing that may prevent the development of the positive mind-set that’s crucial to ensuring success
  • social and cultural barriers – including the negative attitudes that the disadvantaged pupil’s community can have towards education
  • academic barriers – including how far the school’s curriculum, the staff and the school’s support strategies secure disadvantaged pupils’ engagement with learning and provide them with the tools to be successful.


Special attention is given to parental engagement and pupils’ attendance at school, as it’s clear that support from home and pupils regularly attending school are key to securing success. What is also clear is that:


  • disadvantaged pupils are more than three times more likely to be persistently absent from school than their non-disadvantaged peers (2015 attendance information)
  • parental engagement is four times as important as socio-economic class in influencing the academic performance of young people (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, subsequently called the Learning and Work Institute).


If you’re interested in accessing this webinar, please contact our Regional Support Team, East Midlands (CorrespondenceEastMidlands@ofsted.gov.uk).

And keep an eye out for others opportunities which we will promote on these pages.