Last reviewed 31 January 2020

So-called stuck schools face a range of social problems, including cultural isolation, a jobs market skewed towards big cities and low expectations from parents.

That is the view of HM Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman, who was responding to the release of a new report from Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) which examines why some schools that have previously delivered a low standard of education for long periods of time have managed to sustainably improve, while others have not.

“Stuck” schools are defined by Ofsted as those that have had at least four full inspections since September 2006 and have not been judged good or better during that time.

England currently has 415 schools in that category, Ofsted has revealed, with a total pupil population of some 210,000. The areas with the highest proportion of stuck schools are Derby, Southend-on-Sea and Darlington.

To help them break out of that cycle of low performance, these schools need better and more tailored support, the report argues.

Ofsted found that stuck schools struggle with a combination of issues, with key ones being: isolation (making it hard to recruit and keep good teachers); poor parental motivation (children are not encouraged to learn or to even attend school); and unstable pupil populations (so that year groups are constantly disrupted).

However, the research also discovered that some stuck schools were able to improve by focusing on three core areas: academic standards, behaviour and governance.

By holding teachers to high standards, tackling bad behaviour and getting the right leadership in place, stuck schools can improve, Ms Spielman explained, adding that Ofsted 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.

View the report: Fight or flight? How ‘stuck’ schools are overcoming isolation.