DISADVANTAGED pupils are behind their peers despite work being done to put pressure on schools to increase performance from Wiltshire council.

Cllr Christopher Devine highlighted how white disadvantaged boys were one group performing worse than other children and called for more action to be done to make improvements.

Speaking at a Children Select Committee meeting in County Hall, he said: “This is happening right now, children are being disadvantaged in education as we sit here and talk about it." You might be doing work but it is not shown here. Those tough challenging conversations and work with school is not happening.”

The council said it was ‘challenging’ schools and had created a programme for 27 primary schools that are currently performing particularly badly for disadvantaged learners to improve early language development. A disadvantaged learner is a child who has ever received free school meals, a child in care or an adopted child. There are around 10,000 disadvantaged children in Wiltshire.

Despite the relatively small figure compared to other authorities, Wiltshire is among the worst 50 performing councils for children under 11 in key stage one, phonics and early years.

Jayne Hartnell, head of school effectiveness said: “It is not a small number but it is smaller than other authorities, relatively.

“One area we are pleased about is for Key Stage four. In terms of their Progress Eight figure and their attainment is relatively good compared with other areas of educational outcomes but still not good enough we feel.

“We have been working with school and with groups on this agenda over the last few years. We are continuing to challenge school governors. A key is improvements in quality of teaching learning and assessments. We are working on those and have programmes on supporting early language development.”

Schools receive up to £2300 for every disadvantaged pupil being taught through the pupil premium, introduced in 2011.

School Teacher Representative John Proctor said schools were working hard to end the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.

He said: “Since 2011 and the inception of the pupil premium grant, that the gap has not diminished to the extent we would like this is national figures. I’m very sorry to have to say that. Perhaps Cllr Devine will accept an invitation to visit the schools and have a look at where the gap has diminished. We have worked hard at diminishing the gap.”