SCHOOLS should not be expected to plug all the gaps left by society’s failings, Ofsted’s chief inspector has told a Birmingham conference.
Sir Michael Wilshaw warned too many children were still coming to school against a background of “lost standards, values and ambitions”.
The impact of social problems such as teenage pregnancy, youth crime and truancy in schools and young people should not be under-estimated, he said.
He announced that Ofsted is to launch a major review looking at the issue at the National College’s annual conference in Birmingham.
Sir Michael said: “I really do recognise how some schools have to battle against an anti-learning culture within the communities they serve.
“We need to bring back ambition to communities that lack aspiration. Schools too often have to try to pick up the pieces where society has failed. But schools simply can’t plug all the gaps left by society’s failings, nor should we expect them to do so.”
The new review will come up with “radical recommendations” for government on what must be done to deal with “deep-seated” problems of disadvantage, Sir Michael said.
He told the conference that social problems should not limit ambitions, but be a spur to break the cycle of deprivation that some young people face.
“We need to repair community strength,” he said. “We need to do more to develop good parenting skills and reinvigorate a sense of responsibility within families.”
Education Secretary Michael Gove has previously attacked a culture of low expectations which says poor children cannot be successful because of their background.
Schools can change a child’s destiny and many are proving this through hard work and good teaching, he insisted in a speech last month.
Mr Gove rejected the argument of some that pupil achievement in the UK is overwhelmingly dictated by socio-economic factors.
“They say that deprivation means destiny – that schools are essentially impotent in the face of overwhelming force of circumstance.”