Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said the improvement of secondary schools has 'stalled' and that there has been a 70 per cent increase in the number of 11- to 18-year-olds being taught in 'inadequate' state schools compared with 2012.
Almost 150 secondaries – 29 per cent - are now in 'special measures', which Sir Michael blames on schools not getting 'the basics right'.
In 13 local authorities, more than half of secondary schools are judged to be poor, while the proportion is higher than 30 per cent in a third of councils across England. The depressing assessment comes in the school inspectorate's annual report.
Sir Michael says: "Where schools are failing, it is not because they are local authority schools, or academies.
"They are failing because they haven't got the essentials right: governance and oversight is weak, leadership is poor, misbehaviour goes unchallenged and teaching is indifferent.
"If our education system is to continue to progress we need to concentrate on the basics of why schools and colleges fail and why they succeed."
However, Brian Lightman, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union, rejected the 'assertion that improvement in secondary schools has stalled'.
He said: "There is no complacency in our secondary schools. Instead there is a steely determination to continue to raise standards."
He said that Ofsted's report showed that rather than declining, there were record levels of secondary schools rated as good and outstanding.
On the plus side, the report says primary schools continue to improve, with just 18 per cent of all schools deemed underperforming compared with 21 per cent a year earlier.
Sir Michael puts this down to teachers focusing on pupils' behaviour and communication with parents.
What is your experience of choosing a school and Ofsted reports?
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