Damning verdict for Isle of Wight

Inspectors criticise treatment of pupils in care and say that its schools are inadequate overall, reports Jon Slater

Education on the Isle of Wight was branded inadequate this week by inspectors who said that its schools were too quick to exclude children in care.

Too many children did not receive their entitlement to full-time education and junior and secondary test scores were too low for both youngsters in care and their peers, according to Ofsted's review of children's services on the island.

The Isle of Wight was one of four councils to have its area review published by Ofsted this week - and the only one whose education services were judged to be failing.

Schools in Gateshead were judged to be good, while education in Manchester and Sandwell, West Midlands was adequate.

Inspectors said the Isle of Wight prepared children well for school and that pupils did well at age seven but standards for older children were not good enough.

The report said: "By the age of 16 the percentage of young people achieving five or more A*-C grades at GCSE is well below the national average and that of similar authorities. The progress that pupils make through their schooling is unsatisfactory."

Parents have voted with their feet and the number of children educated at home has risen sharply in the past academic year.

Health services for children in care were praised by inspectors but their education was criticised.

"The achievements of looked-after children and those leaving care are not good enough, despite recent improvements," inspectors said. "(Children in care) achieve high levels of school attendance but attainment is not good enough. Young men leaving care are less likely to continue in education, employment or training than their peers."

Dawn Cousins, lead member for children's services said: "We have many areas of our services to children and young people of which we can be justifiably proud.

"We acknowledge the hard work of our staff, but we do have significant improvements to make in ensuring children can achieve their full potential in education.

"The findings of the review indicate the Government's confidence in our ability to turn around those services in need of improvement, particularly education."

Standards of education of children in care in Manchester were also judged inadequate while those in Sandwell and Gateshead were satisfactory.

Ofsted's joint area reviews grade all children's services provided by an authority on a four-point scale from outstanding (4) to inadequate (1).

The TES Time to Care campaign, launched in January, has drawn attention to the low achievement of children in care and the differences between the standard of education they receive in different authorities.

Official figures show that more than half of those in care leave school without a single GCSE and just 6 per cent gain five or more A*-C grades at GCSE .

* jon.slater@tes.co.uk


Good and bad points

What the four councils inspected did well, and badly...


Good: All children's services from social services to education

Bad: Nothing

Isle of Wight

Good: Gives children a say in the way services are run

Bad: Education


All major services satisfactory - neither good nor bad Sandwell

Good: Nothing - education and health were satisfactory

Bad: Social care, child protection and service management

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