INSPECTORS have called upon Southampton and Hampshire education chiefs to do more to help underprivileged children in schools.

“Serious concerns” have been raised about the number of youngsters from poorer backgrounds who are “lagging behind” other children.

School watchdog Ofsted is calling for action to bring the county’s struggling children up to scratch.

It comes after the release of Ofsted’s Annual Report for 2015/16 yesterday which revealed figures about the performance of early years, schools, colleges and further education and skills across the South East.

One of the main concerns was with the education of children who were receiving free school meals.

Stephen Long, Her Majesty’s Senior Inspector for the South East, said no improvements had been made on last year.

The report revealed the numbers of children in Southampton and the Isle of Wight who gained at least five GCSEs at C grade or above, including English and maths, were among the lowest in the region.

It was also noted how in the last four years the standard of Southampton secondary schools had fallen with the number of children attending schools rated good or outstanding having fallen by eight per cent to 74 per cent since last year placing the city 105th out of 152 authorities in the country.

The Isle of Wight faired even worse and was rated as the 149th although the number of pupils attending good or outstanding schools had risen by three per cent over the last 12 months, to 26 per cent.

Mr Long said: “I am concerned about the poor outcomes for those from deprived backgrounds, something that has dogged us for too long.

“Southampton is one of the lowest performers in the region and the Isle of Wight is the only other one below it. There are just not enough good or outstanding schools in Southampton and there is not enough effective work being done by the local authorities.”

He added deprived children tended to lag behind other pupils and this gap only got wider as the children got older.

The report noted too few of the region’s two-year-olds benefitted from free early education, so by the end of the reception year, only half of the children eligible for free school meals had reached a good level of development compared with almost three quarters of other pupils.

This pattern continued into primary school where the issues with the skills of pupils eligible for free school meals in key areas such as reading remained.

The report noted in the South East, the deficit was not being addressed well enough in secondary schools and as a result, the difference between disadvantaged pupils’ grades and others was the widest in the country by the time they reached 16-years-old.

And, the situation did not improve past age 16, with just 38 per cent of students previously eligible for free school meals achieving GCSE in English and mathematics by the time they are 19.

Hampshire was 76th out of 152 in the country with 83 per cent of children attending secondary schools rated good or outstanding - a figure that has steadily risen by five per cent since 2012.

The region as a whole has done quite well with 84 per cent of secondary school pupils in the South East attending top schools - three per cent above the national average.

Nearly 90 per cent of primary schools were also judged good or better, this is up by seven by cent since last year.

In 2016, 54 per cent of pupils reached the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics before they move onto secondary school, making the South East the third-best performing region in 2016.

The report also noted the situation around the region’s primary schools. It was revealed 86 per cent of Southampton children attended a good or outstanding primary school which put the city 118th out of the 152 authorities in England, this is an improvement from last year by three per cent and 23 per cent since 2012.

Hampshire schools had continued to do well compared to the year before, up by seven per cent, with 91 per cent of children attending a top schools, placing the county 81st out of 152 - this is up by 16 per cent from 2012.

The Isle of Wight however came out at 150 out of 152 with only 69 per cent of children attending a good or outstanding school, although this figure has improved since last year by five per cent.

Mr Long said: “Schools need to do more to make sure children develop strong skills like basic literacy, particularly reading.

“The schools which have tackled the problem effectively have worked with the children at school and with supporting the families, particularly in areas such as hearing their children and supporting basic mathematics skills at home.

“More often than not you will find children in disadvantage circumstances are not being heard to read as much at home and are not given a reaching range of cultural experiences, like through visiting museums and galleries, setting them when they go on to secondary school.”

Mr Long said the problem was with schools overseen by local authorities and academy trusts.

“Not enough is being done to raise the standards and they are not doing a good enough job,” he added.

“The schools are serving children from deprived backgrounds particularly badly but are not doing a good enough job for all the children.”

The view on higher education was slightly better, in total 95 per cent of sixth form colleges were judged as good or outstanding in the South East compared to 89 per cent nationally.

The report revealed that in 2015 the amount of students achieving GCSEs, with English or mathematics, by age 19 was among the strongest in the country at 69 per cent.

And, 59 per cent of students gained A-levels, or equivalent qualification by the same age.

But Ofsted bosses were concerned that in the same year, only five per cent of students in the South East chose to take up an apprenticeship at 16 compared with six per cent in England and at age 19 only 43 per cent of students progressed to higher education, five per cent lower than the national.