'Covid is to blame not the council' — that is the response from Isle of Wight Tories to criticism they haven't met their 2017 manifesto pledge on Island schools.

At the last council elections, a key part of their manifesto was that 25 per cent of schools would be judged outstanding by Ofsted within four years...and all schools would be rated good.

Social media and opposition parties recently picked up on the failure to deliver but the man who was cabinet member for children's education, Cllr Paul Brading, says it is the pandemic that is to blame.

Responding to a joke, a post on the Isle of Wight Liberal Democrats Facebook page said: "It may be a mock-up but the education failure is real. Conservatives are keeping quiet about their promises which they failed to deliver."

According to schools watchdog Ofsted, only three-quarters of schools (36) are deemed as good, 11 require improvement and one is inadequate.

Since 2017, only seven schools have improved their rating whereas 11 dropped down, one (Christ The King College) falling to the lowest measure, 'inadequate'.

Cllr Brading said having inherited a 'very low' 57 per cent of schools with good or better ratings from the previous independent administration, they immediately set a 'much higher and achievable target'.

The figure had increased to 75 per cent and schools were being fully supported to reach good.

Due to Covid-19, however, national school inspections were stopped and only remote monitoring assessments on requires improvement and lower-rated schools have been made since then.

Cllr Brading questioned how they were supposed to increase the number of good schools when inspections had paused.

He said: "In 2020 we were confident seven schools were due an inspection and all would achieve a 'good' rating, which would have pushed our percentage to near 90 per cent, an incredible achievement from what we inherited.

"This included three secondary schools that would have meant 100 per cent of secondary would be rated 'good'.

"Several special Covid virtual inspections have happened and all the schools were praised for the incredible efforts of their staff, with other broader comments on the school, that support our own internal monitoring views that they are on a journey to be 'good'."

Cllr Brading said the aim 'still remains' that all children are taught in a good, or better, school.

He also thanked all school staff for their work and dedication during the pandemic and said the whole Island was proud of their achievements.