Schools 'failing most able pupils'
Tens of thousands of clever children are being let down by England's state secondary schools, inspectors have warned.
A culture of low expectations in many schools means that bright pupils are not being stretched and are failing to gain top grades at GCSE, according to a new Ofsted report.
Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said it was "shocking" that, in some cases, school leaders and teachers did not even know who their most able children were.
He called for parents to be sent annual reports giving information on whether their child is achieving as much as they should be, and suggested that pupils should be put into sets for key subjects such as English and maths from age 11.
Last year nearly two-thirds (65%) of pupils at non-selective secondaries, around 65,000 students in total, gained a Level 5 in English and maths in national curriculum tests at the end of primary school, one level above the expected standard, but did not get an A* or A grade in these subjects at GCSE, Ofsted said.
Just over a quarter of these students, around 27,000, did not get a grade B in English and maths at GCSE.
Sir Michael said the figures are "unacceptable in an increasingly competitive world". He said: "Too many non-selective schools are failing to nurture scholastic excellence. While the best of these schools provide excellent opportunities, many of our most able students receive mediocre provision.
"Put simply, they are not doing well enough because their secondary schools fail to challenge and support them sufficiently from the beginning."
The report calls for parents to be given a report each year setting out whether their child is on track to achieve as much as they should do in national tests and exams. It adds that schools should ensure that classwork is challenging and demanding throughout the ages of 11 to 14 so that able pupils can make rapid progress.
A Department for Education spokesman said: "Sir Michael is right - secondary schools must ensure all their pupils, including their brightest, fulfil their potential. That's why we are introducing a more demanding and rigorous curriculum, toughening up GCSEs and getting universities involved in A-levels."