ASCL response to EPI report on ‘stuck schools’

Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the report of the Education Policy Institute (EPI) on “stuck schools”.
“This report confirms that what is desperately needed to improve the fortunes of schools which are trapped in a cycle of negative Ofsted ratings is more support and less punishment. Unfortunately, we have a system in which negative Ofsted ratings stigmatise schools, ruin careers and damage professional reputations.
“Fewer children then attend these schools – which puts pressure on funding – and it is more difficult to attract staff. It is very hard to escape this vicious circle and secure the improvement that is needed by pupils, families and communities.
“Given that these schools are often in areas of high disadvantage it is easy to see that the outcome of such a system is that so-called ‘stuck schools’ can become a baked-in feature of communities which desperately need the ‘levelling up’ help that the government so frequently talks about but does not actually deliver.
“As this report shows, other schools facing challenging circumstances have managed to avoid a continuous cycle of negative Ofsted judgements. So, this is a complex picture that cannot be ascribed to a single cause or be solved by a single solution. However, what is abundantly clear is that the current system does not help matters and that there must be a reset in which school inspections are part of a holistic strategy to target support where it is needed rather than a big stick with which to beat schools.”