School's low exam turn-out reflects parents' poor educational aspirations

24th August 2007 at 01:00
The reason some pupils at George Pindar sports college in Scarborough slept through their GCSE exams was not poverty. It was arguably the lack of value they and their parents placed on education, writes Jonathan Milne.

Hugh Bellamy, the headteacher, had to send staff to bang on doors and wake up pupils who had been out late working on market stalls the previous day. At least 22 per cent of pupils at the school claim free meals, but that paints a misleadingly positive picture of the seaside town's impoverishment. Many parents worked outside the mainstream economy, earning seasonal cash on stalls, in construction and trading on eBay. They had no qualifications. Mr Bellamy said: "Parents' expectation is that their children will enter the same economy, and so they have no educational aspirations." He welcomed moves to fund schools according to families' genuine socio-economic deprivation, potentially including parents' education. The funding his school receives from the relatively affluent North Yorkshire local authority nearly pound;1,000 per pupil less than similar city schools has not been enough to address its challenges, he said. Photograph: Katie Lee

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