Ofsted chief warns of growing failure in Englands secondary schools

The chief inspector of schools has warned that good teachers are in short supply in the areas of greatest need, as he revealed details of growing failure in England’s secondary schools, with tens of thousands more pupils attending schools condemned as inadequate.

Launching his annual Ofsted report, Sir Michael Wilshaw said the nation should be worried about a growing divide between primary and secondary schools.

“In too many cases, pupils are leaving their primary schools with good literacy and numeracy skills … But the culture they encounter at too many secondary schools often demotivates and discourages them,” he said.

The report reveals that while primaries continue to forge ahead, progress in secondaries has “plateaued” after years of improvement and is now in danger of going into reverse. Wilshaw said schools were not doing enough to challenge their most able pupils, and poor behaviour in class was in some cases making learning impossible.

Ofsted chief warns of growing failure in England’s secondary schools

He also highlighted continuing concerns about poor achievement among white British children, describing it as “particularly troubling”. He added: “I’m sad to say that there is no sign of the gap between them and other ethnic groups narrowing.”

Although the overall proportion of good or outstanding secondaries is unchanged from last year, Wilshaw warned that the proportion of failing schools had gone up, with 56 more in special measures than a year ago. In addition, 170,000 children are being taught in secondary schools that are deemed inadequate – Ofsted’s lowest category –, which is 70,000 more than in the previous year.

Wilshaw named and shamed 13 local authorities where parents “will rightly worry” about poor performance, where children have a less than 50% chance of attending a good secondary school.

All but one were in the north: Tameside, Middlesbrough, Barnsley, East Riding, Stockton-on-Tees, Bradford, Blackpool, Doncaster, Oldham, St Helens, Hartlepool, Derbyshire and Isle of Wight.

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