Labour slams Bucks achievement gap

Mike Appleyard, cabinet member for education at Buckinghamshire County Council
Mike Appleyard, cabinet member for education at Buckinghamshire County Council

The divide between rich and poor children in Bucks is getting wider when it comes to educational achievement.

In 2013 only 34% of the poorest pupils (those eligible for free school meals) got five GCSEs graded A-C while 74 per cent of other students achieved this.

The 40% gap has widened since 2011 and puts Bucks just behind Kent as the second worst county for educational inequality.

Local Labour party leaders claim that Bucks’ education chiefs have failed to use extra Pupil Premium funding to help poorer pupils achieve better results.

Mark Ferris, Labour’s local education spokesman, said: “The gap between poor pupils and others has always been wide in Bucks.

“Nationally the gap has widened, although some local authorities have managed to buck the trend. Milton 
Keynes for example has reduced the gap between the results of poor pupils and others by 13%.

“But in Bucks the gap has widened to 40%, this is appalling. The pupil premium just hasn’t worked in Bucks.

“It is disgraceful that the educational system in Bucks continues to fail poorer pupils so badly.”

But Bucks County Council education cabinet member Mike Appleyard defended 
education in the county, claiming that all pupils benefit the grammar school system.

He said: “We were picked up a year ago because the gap between children that have free school meals and those who didn’t was larger than other authorities.

“This implied that we only look after the brightest ones.

“I’m pleased to say that this year we’ve got our lower performers up to the national average, but the gap is still wide because our higher calibre students are still well above the national average.”