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Secondary School Progress Stalled

Ofsted is warning that too many secondary schools in England are not making sufficient progress, with almost a third judged not to be good enough.

Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, delivering the education watchdog's annual report, says that secondary schools have "stalled".

He says there are now 170,000 pupils in inadequate secondary schools, about 70,000 more than two years ago.

Sir Michael says these schools "need to concentrate on the basics".

The annual report, looking at the outcomes of inspections in 2013-14, says that the school system continues to improve, with more than four out of five schools now rated good or outstanding.

Disruption

Much of this progress has been driven by primary schools, with Ofsted saying there are 700,000 more pupils in good and outstanding primary schools than in 2012.

But Sir Michael warns that there are more worrying signs in secondary schools, with 50 more in special measures than last year.

Secondary school head teachers might look at Ofsted's gloomy annual report as a glass a third empty rather than more than two thirds full.

Teacher recruitment

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Sir Michael said a lack of good leadership was often the key issue, more so than the type of school, such as academy or local authority school.

He also warned the "transition from primary to secondary can be poor" and the "culture of underperforming schools is not good, with low-level disruption".

Sir Michael said that increased autonomy helped schools to improve, but it also required better leadership.

The Ofsted chief said more school autonomy needed to be accompanied by increased monitoring.

Regional gaps

Brian Lightman, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union, rejected the "assertion that improvement in secondary schools has stalled".

"There is no complacency in our secondary schools. Instead there is a steely determination to continue to raise standards."

The heads' leader said that Ofsted's report showed that rather than declining, there were record levels of secondary schools rated as good and outstanding.

The annual report will also highlight concerns about differences in school quality between different areas. The report says there are 13 local authorities in which families have less than a 50% chance of getting a good or outstanding secondary school.