Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Educashun, Edukaton, Educashan

OFSTED has been bothering the drones again:

The report said the literacy and numeracy strategies, which require primary schools to teach English and maths for an hour a day each and prescribe exactly how the lessons are to be conducted, had brought about an overall improvement in the quality of teaching but at a high price.

So far, so clich├ęd. Except, when we get down to brass tacks, suddenly it ain't looking so good:

Nearly half of the teaching in English primary schools is not good enough, mainly because teachers do not know enough about literacy and numeracy, Ofsted said yesterday.

A quarter of 11-year-olds - more than 150,000 children - moved on to secondary school every year without reaching the expected levels in English and maths….

In about one lesson in three, the teaching was "only satisfactory", the fourth level of a seven-point scale that extends from "excellent" to "very poor". Teaching was "unsatisfactory" in one lesson in eight.

That meant that there were not enough lessons in which the teaching was good enough to raise standards for the lowest-attaining quarter of pupils.

Yes, indeed: the very subjects the government's concentrating on, and they're still being taught badly. Note that this is report from OFSTED, the government's own body, whose first head got the old heave ho' for being too rude to the Teachoids. So what's going wrong ?

Too many teachers have an overarching knowledge of English and maths but no deep understanding," said David Bell, the head of Ofsted, launching the report on the impact of the first five years of the national literacy and numeracy strategies…

"Weak subject knowledge is the consistent common feature in the unsatisfactory teaching," it said. "Uncertainites stemming from gaps in knowledge of English or mathematics restrict teachers' ability to anticipate and then respond effectively to pupils' difficulties. Weak subject knowledge also limits effective planning for the next steps in learning.

"Improvements in teachers' subject knowledge of English and maths are therefore crucial in improving the quality of planning, teaching and assessment."

That's got to hurt! But, these people are nothing if resilient, and even a kicking of epic proportions can't knock them off message:

David Hart, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the Government did not stand "a cat in hell's chance" of delivering its broad and balanced primary strategy, let alone meet its targets for achievement by 11-year-olds, unless it started "investing properly" in primary education.

"The dog ate my resources, miss"

Still, as bad as English & Maths teaching is, look what happens in those subjects where the government isn't breathing right down the necks of the Teachoids:

In a Year 6 [11-year-olds] geography lesson on the rain forest, pupils tasted foods, used a computer program, painted their faces and engaged in drumming - all of which interested them - but their progress in knowledge, skills and understanding of geography was minimal.

No kidding!

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