Children now have a better chance than ever of attending a good or outstanding school, according to the latest Ofsted report.
Improvements have been made in many schools due to greater accountability and more focussed inspection, the report finds. Over 90 per cent of schools judged to require improvement are making progress to improve standards.
Some barriers to progress remain, however, which are preventing British schools from becoming among the best in the world. These include pockets of weak provision and significant underachievement in some children from low income families, particularly those from a White background. A "poverty of expectation", rather than economic poverty, is judged to play a large role in preventing White children from succeeding.
The report finds that academies have played a significant role in narrowing the attainment gap of five or more A* - C grades by eight percentage points.
Ofsted has strengthened its inspections to ensure that weaknesses in regional performance are addressed.
Chief inspector of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw has called for schools to create an environment that is conducive to learning. Speaking to the BBC, he claimed poverty does not necessarily lead to failure and the issue is being tackled adequately by schools.
Instead, he suggested there is a divide between "lucky and unlucky" pupils - some who are fortunate enough to be born in an area with good facilities which foster high expectations of pupils, and some who aren't.
"And if we're going to have a genuinely world-class education system, we've got to iron out those regional differences and we've got to make sure that the really good head teachers and teachers in our land go to those areas to show others what good practice looks like," Sir Michael commented.
The Ofsted chief inspector's comments come after news in which Britain's education rankings failed to improve in the latest Pisa report. They also follow a report by Welsh inspection body Estyn that suggested Welsh schools could do more to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Posted by Theo Foulds.