A NORTH-EAST schools' network has argued against an Ofsted report which identifies Darlington as having the highest proportion of ‘stuck’ schools in the UK.

Schools North East said the report is part of a 'false narrative' about the performance of the region's schools and added it does not take to account the context of varying areas across the country.

In its latest report ‘In Fight or flight? How ‘stuck’ schools are overcoming isolation’, Ofsted defines stuck schools as those that have not been judged good or better since September 2006 and puts Darlington in the top three areas with the highest proportion of these schools.

However, Chris Zarraga, Director of Schools North East, said the report goes "nowhere near enough" to acknowledge the context which schools operate in.

He said: "When looking more closely at the context, Darlington has very high levels of long term, high impact disadvantaged students, which is proven to have a severe impact on school performance, especially when using current performance measures.

"Research from Durham University Evidence Centre for Education shows that when levels of disadvantage are taken into account, Darlington performs no worse than elsewhere in the country.

"Current performance measures do not take this context into account. This leads to the inaccurate and detrimental labelling of dedicated and highly professional school leaders within some of the most difficult contexts in the country."

The schools network did acknowledge, however, Ofsted's argument that the most effective initiatives to help struggling schools are those that are context-specific, and that there is a need for flexibility in the implementation of improvement strategies.

Mr Zarraga added: "The importance of a context specific approach is one that Schools North East has called on all political parties and education policymakers to adopt.

"Schools North East welcomes and supports this approach as currently the government does not ask, or adequately fund, Ofsted to support schools following inspection.

"We are committed to ensuring that the North East region’s schools get the targeted support that they need, and also to dispelling false narratives of poor performance in the region."