Special schools are nearly four times more likely to be placed under special measures than mainstream schools.
"Special schools often don't have the staff or organisational capabilities to cope with inspections. Also what they see as priorities for their pupils may not be congruent with what Ofsted sees as a school's priority," said Professor Gary Thomas, co-author of a Government-funded report on how failing schools turn themselves around.
Schools for pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD) were even more likely to fail inspections, and tended to find it hardest to come out of special measures. Almost half the special schools on special measures are for EBD pupils, while such schools comprise only around 17 per cent of all special schools.
Researchers from the University of the West of England compared the action plans of 60 special schools placed under special measures, examining how some had managed to improve more quickly than others. Defined targets, strong heads and external support from local authorities were key factors in improving such schools.
"Best practice amongst special schools in special measures" costs Pounds 10 from The Research Office, Faculty of Education, University of the West of England, Redland Campus, Redland Hill, Bristol, BS6 6UZ.