The head of a careers service provider has expressed concern over damning criticism by Ofsted of the quality of secondary school education for students in the Black Country.
Kufa Matiya, CEO of In2Ambition, (pictured) has reacted to an open letter sent by the Government watchdog’s regional director for the West Midlands Lorna Fitzjohn, in which she states the standards of secondary school education across Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton are “unacceptably low”.
The letter, which goes on to say pupils’ achievements by age 16 were “poor” in comparison to elsewhere in the region, and nationally, raises considerable concerns, said Mr Matiya.
He said: “This letter raises many concerns about the standards of all-round education which secondary students across the Black Country are receiving. It underlines the need for everyone from across the education system, along with politicians, councils, parents and employers, to make education and skills their number one priority and provide much-needed support for the young people in this region.”
In her letter, which was sent to councils, academy trusts and MPs, Ms Fitzjohn said there was a wide gap between GCSE achievements of disadvantaged pupils and their better-off counterparts, while she also highlighted the fact secondary schools were regularly failing to build on the success of pupils in primary schools with “much of their progress going to waste”.
Mr Matiya said: “The wide gap between GCSE achievements of disadvantaged students and those who are better off is particularly worrying. Exam results should not be depend on a pupil’s background or where they live, there should be a structure in place to ensure all these young people get the learning development and, therefore, career opportunities they deserve.”
Commenting on the overall state of secondary education in the region, Ms Fitzjohn wrote: “Standards at the end of secondary school are unacceptably low. Of 151 local authorities, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton are among the worst 25 in England for GCSE attainment. Dudley fares little better and is among the worst 35 local authorities in the country for secondary school attainment.”
Mr Matiya said: “While the Department for Education has introduced some reforms in a bid to raise standards, more urgent action clearly needs to be taken to raise the standard of secondary education in this area so it can support what is a thriving community and local economy.
“At In2Ambition, our careers model is focused around inspiring and nurturing aspirations of young people, linking careers into the curriculum and opening an exciting world of opportunities for these students. The Black Country LEP has an exciting vision and it is critical that schools in the area enable students to acquire skills and reach attainment levels to make the most of their opportunities, as a good talent pool encourages businesses to invest in areas and that, in turn, creates a vibrant community and region.
“We have already started to work with colleges in the area and look forward to engaging with the key stakeholders and young people to identify how we can improve on the report findings.”
In2Ambition, which is based in Henley-in-Arden, provides independent and impartial careers advice and guidance to students at schools and colleges across the UK. To find out more information, call 03300 500 222 or visit www.in2ambition.com.