The school inspection team claim that young secondary school students are being failed by their schools, who prioritise resources towards GCSE and A level groups.
Ofsted says students arrive from primary school eager to learn and confident on progressing strongly, but this progression is stalled when they go through the early years of secondary school, known as Key Stage 3.
The focus at schools is generally always on A levels and GCSEs, due to their significance, head teachers say.
Evidence from 1,900 inspections, 11,000 student questionnaires, interviews with 100 school leaders and 14 school visits was used to help create the report, which says that too many schools are treating years 7 to 9 as the ‘poor relation’ of Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5.
The progress of students during these first three years is seen as being too slow, and for subjects such as Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), geography and history, students lacked enthusiasm to take them on to GCSE.
Low-level disruptions and a lack of effective use of funds were also highlighted as concerns with how the current system works.
Russell Hobby, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Too often in the past, Ofsted has focused on the current year’s exam results rather than investments in areas like Key Stage 3 which would only show up in years to come.
The report was called Key Stage 3: The wasted years?