Serious concerns were raised today that teaching in two fifths of schools is not good enough, with pupils subjected to unproductive and dull lessons.
In some cases, schools rely too much on worksheets and a narrow range of textbooks, according to Ofsted's annual report.
It also suggests that many schools are coasting, with around one in seven remaining "stubbornly" satisfactory, with little prospect of improvement.
Acting chief inspector Miriam Rosen warned that teaching in England's schools is "still too variable", adding she was "disappointed" that there had not been a greater improvement in quality.
And she indicated that England does not have the best-qualified teaching workforce it has ever had.
The annual report reveals that just 3% of secondary schools and 4% of primaries were judged outstanding for their teaching this year.
Overall, teaching was no better than satisfactory in 41% of schools.
Ms Rosen said: "Looking carefully at our inspection results, there has been a slight improvement in the quality of teaching this year, bearing in mind that this year inspections have been more focused on weaker provision than last year.
"Nevertheless we are disappointed that there hasn't been a greater improvement in the quality of teaching because teaching is such an important factor in driving improved standards for pupils and learners. We know what outstanding teaching looks like."
Asked if England still had the best-qualified teaching force, she said: "I think that particular statement was made quite a long time ago, back in something like 2003, it isn't something that we've particularly said recently.
"We do have good results from our inspections of initial teacher education, however in this area we are introducing new arrangements for inspection, we're consulting on those at the moment, and in this area too we intend to raise expectations."
The report shows that of all schools in England, almost a third (30%) were rated either as only satisfactory or inadequate.
Among those inspected this year alone, almost half (44%) were judged no better than satisfactory.
Around 14% of schools inspected this year, nearly 800 in total, have been judged satisfactory twice in a row, and are considered to have no better than satisfactory capacity to improve.
And 16 of 84 colleges inspected this year were found to be satisfactory for the third time in succession.
One of the main challenges is "raising standards ambitions, particularly where provision is stubbornly satisfactory," it says.
The report adds: "Ensuring that there is real change and improvement should be a matter of urgency for these organisations."
There are also concerns about schools in rich areas that could be performing better.
Among the fifth of schools serving the richest pupils, more than one in four (27%) were satisfactory.
It comes just a week after Prime Minister David Cameron warned that schools in middle class areas which "drift along" and fail to push pupils to their full potential will be named and shamed in league tables.