DISADVANTAGED children in Westmorland and Furness achieved worse school results than disadvantaged pupils nationally according to a council report.

A report prepared for the children, young people and families scrutiny committee for Westmorland and Furness council states that disadvantaged boys are ‘particularly underachieving’.

Figures show only 13.5 per cent of disadvantaged boys in Westmorland and Furness gained a strong pass at English and Maths at GCSE level compared to 23.7 per cent nationally and below non-disadvantaged boys nationally at 50.4 per cent.

The report states: “The most compelling disparity in Westmorland and Furness outcome data is that our disadvantaged pupils do less well than their counterparts nationally. Post-covid we have seen a growing gap in attainment and outcome data between our disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged cohorts and this is a key priority for the directorate, the wider council and the school system as a whole and needs to be urgently addressed.”

The assistant director education and inclusion for Westmorland and Furness Council, Isobel Booler, told the committee that the data is ‘striking’ and a ‘concern to us all’.

Ms Booler also spoke of the improvements at early foundation stage but said they are below national average.

According to a council report the proportion achieving a ‘good level of development’ at early years foundation stage has increased by 2% in 2023 from 63.5% to 65.5% in Westmorland and Furness. However, this is below the national percentage of 67.2 per cent.

Ms Booler said: “It is a concern that although the good level of development in the early years and foundation stage has improved, we’re still two per cent below national and I think we do as a school system need to understand why some of our results are improving, they’re struggling to recover from COVID the same as elsewhere.”

However, figures show 92 per cent of Westmorland and Furness pupils attend a good or better school, which is the fourth highest in the North West.

Mr Booler said: “I do think we do need to start by making note of the pride and actually celebrating the strong school system. Coming in as a new assistant director I am absolutely delighted to find an autonomous and school led system which has led to 92 per cent of our children and young people being in good or better schools. And yes, we would like it even higher, but we’ve got to note the commitment and hard work that has brought that.”

“I think it’s really important to say that we are building on the strengths and that we’ve got good leadership in our schools”, Ms Booler added.