Challenging Schools


Key Skills Education works closely with secondary schools across the ability range endeavouring to secure the perfect solution to their recruitment needs. It follows that many of our client schools may well present additional challenges within the classroom. Over the years these schools have been increasingly referred to as challenging schools.

These challenges can be wide ranging in nature and include:

– serving areas of severe socio-economic disadvantage

– having a high proportion of pupils with special educational needs (SEN)

– meeting the needs of pupils who speak languages other than English

This topic has recently been addressed by The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) at a seminar held at the Burlington Danes Academy, where key note speakers and case study speakers provided valuable insight and thoughts on the issues that challenging schools face.

It was noted that if the teaching profession is to succeed in narrowing the attainment gaps which exist between children from different backgrounds, it must be ensured that children, particularly those with additional needs, are taught by the most effective professionals.

The seminar targeted “the fact and the fiction” behind common perceptions surrounding the focus on challenging schools, namely the “huge misconceptions” about what they are.

It has been proven over the last few years that so-called challenging schools can be turned around very quickly but to help pupils fulfil their potential these schools need the very best teachers and leaders.

The “biggest myth” is that children in these schools don’t want to learn and they display this through poor behaviour and disruption in the classroom. Yet the truth of the matter is that “a good lesson will always capture the hearts and the minds of all the children in the class”

Teachers should not be deterred by the perceived challenges of working in schools with high numbers of disadvantaged children. The career opportunities and the experiences one can acquire teaching in this environment are some of the best you can hope to achieve. Teachers can hone their skills and get the sense of achievement that every teacher wants when starting their career.

Teaching in these schools, one can benefit from greater support and acquire new skills which will put them in good stead for their teaching career and can indeed enhance their career prospects. Things happen at a really fast pace and opportunities come in through the front door that won’t exist in other teaching environments. One speaker noted that 2 or 3 years teaching in a challenging inner-city London school is equivalent to 10 years in any other authority across the country.

If you want to make a difference to children’s lives and know you have the ability to capture the hearts and minds of your students, please check out our current vacancies.


  • racantillo74

    It is a known fact that underachievers are often – directly or further on in life – the victims of our society, but education systems are often blamed as apparently unable to get the best out of disadvantaged students. This is only partly true, as often teachers are left with no other choice but to fail a child, much as one would wish they didn’t. As a teacher of English as a second language in the South of Italy, I have had a chance to witness several cases whereby the entire classroom including the school council itself would single out ‘scapegoats’ in order to re-establish a cathartic, but no less fake, sense of justice within the community. Students accused of all sorts of insults, to teachers as well as class-mates, are nearly always also well-known underachievers – possibly failed several times and with no sense of respect for the school system left at all. I have also been a victim myself of such defiant misbehaving pupils, and have often sanctioned them and sent letters to their often unreceptive parents. Overall however, I have always noted that children tend to listen to teachers who try to talk to them and explain everyone’s very basic need for an education, if only because it leads to a honest working career. At secondary schools level Italian law makes it compulsory for a child to receive schooling, and we as teachers try to render the syllabi we teach as enticing as possible in order to reach through to their unresponsive and untrained minds. Thus, wishing to consider a furthering of my teaching career in the UK, I hope I can apply similar criteria and turn underachievers into well-educated, well-behaved and law abiding students. We can’t ask an underachiever to attain full distinction in all subjects, but we can certainly ensure they take on at least what is absolutely needed for them to get good enough marks for a pass!

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