HALF of Swindon’s secondary schools are inadequate or in need of improvement, education inspectors have said.

Ofsted said declining outcomes were a cause for concern. In Swindon, 82 per cent of primary schools are deemed good or outstanding, a fall of six per cent on the previous year. The proportion of secondary schools in the town reaching the top Ofsted grades fell by eight per cent, the quango said in its annual report.

Schools to have recently been rated inadequate by Ofsted include St Luke’s in Penhill and UTC Swindon. Last month, Grange Junior School in Stratton St Margaret was handed an inadequate rating, with inspectors slamming school leaders they said lacked ambition and had an overly generous view of themselves.

Bradley Simmons, Ofsted’s south west director, said: “Outcomes for our youngest children in early years education continue to be above the national average along with our further education and skills providers, who continue to provide a top quality service.

“However, I am concerned that there has been a four percentage point decline in inspection outcomes for primary and secondary schools. And there is still much variation across the region’s schools.”

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman told the BBC more than 2,000 children in England diagnosed with special educational needs were not receiving any specialist support. She called it a national scandal: “Too often, children who have been assessed still do not receive the services they need.”

Swindon politicians echoed her concerns, saying some youngsters were being failed by the authorities.

Coun Carol Shelley, the Labour group lead for children’s services, said: “In recent years the council has sought to reduce children with assessed special educational needs in the town down to a 'national average'.

“I think this has had a negative impact across Swindon’s schools in terms of how many children are getting timely assessments and the level of support they need. Too many parents are forced to appeal decisions, which are then reversed, when the case is looked at again.”

Ofsted and Care Quality Commission inspectors visited Swindon last month for a focussed inspection of the borough council’s special educational needs services.

Under the Children and Families Act 2014, local health, social and education services must work together to publish details of what support is available for young people under 25 who have special educational needs or disabilities.

The authorities must produce an education, health and social care plan for those children eligible. The plans set out what special needs the child has and they will be supported. In Swindon, there are more than 1,500 children with an EHC plan. The number of children with special educational needs in the town is set to rise significantly by 2020, Swindon Council health chiefs wrote last year.

Swindon Borough Council was approached for comment.

A previous version of this article referred to the Chalet School as having been given an inadequate rating by Ofsted. This was incorrect. The school received a requires improvement rating from Ofsted in May 2017.