William Eichler 08 January 2020

‘Stuck’ schools need more tailored support, inspectors say

Hundreds of schools in England are ‘stuck’ in a cycle of low performance and need more tailored support to improve, a new Ofsted report has found.

Stuck schools are those that have not been judged good or better since September 2006, and have had at least four full inspections during that time.

According to Fight or flight? How ‘stuck’ schools are overcoming isolation, 415 schools, which serve 210,000 pupils, fall into that definition.

These schools struggle with a combination of issues, Ofsted argue.

They are often isolated, which means it’s hard to recruit and keep good teachers. Poor parental motivation and unstable pupil populations also lead to classroom disruption and pupils being discouraged from going to school.

However, Ofsted found that other stuck schools with all of these issues were able to ‘unstick’ themselves by focusing on a few core areas: high academic standards, getting behaviour right and improving governance.

‘Stuck schools are facing a range of societal problems such as cultural isolation, a jobs market skewed towards big cities and low expectations from parents,’ said HM Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman.

‘However, we have shown that schools in these places can still be good or better by holding teachers to high standards, tackling bad behaviour and getting the right leadership in place.

‘Our inspectors have found that the majority of schools in challenging areas are providing children with a good education that sets them up to succeed in later life.

‘What the remaining stuck schools need is tailored, specific and pragmatic advice that suits their circumstances – not a carousel of consultants. They are asking Ofsted to do more to help, and we agree.’

Fight or Flight? recommends that the Government funds Ofsted to trial a longer, deeper inspection approach with some of these schools, with the aim of enabling support to improve.

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