It's either 50 underperforming secondary schools, or 500, depending on who you believe and what criteria matter to you. We know which figure we are inclined to take seriously, though we think it likely to be something of an underestimation, given that the figure of 500 was achieved solely by grading the schools on GCSE results.
Our local secondary school, which wouldn't even fit into the higher number of failing schools, and which managed a very satisfactory Ofsted report in 2004, is a hotbed of drug-taking and violence, with children regularly being head-butted, kicked downstairs, generally bullied and predictably then not doing nearly as well as they could have done.
Teachers and teachers unions naturally go on the defensive:
"Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said Sir Cyril's comments were "unhelpful". He said: 'We know we have got a problem with what can be described as underachieving schools. It does not help to have something like this thrown in your face. Comments like this are very demoralising.' "
Well, SOOORRY - but children are being screwed by this system and whatever your vested interests, you shouldn't be in the business of protecting shoddy institutions and generally giving the impression that this doesn't matter too much. Children don't wait about for you to solve these problems. They grow up and carry with them the attendant difficulty of having spent a significant proportion of their youth in a hell-hole.
The family on the news who couldn't get into the secondary school of their choice, ended up home educating. OK, so HE should be the first choice imo, but we don't really care how people get here, since once here they may get bitten by the HE bug.