Three Rs progress
'no better than satisfactory'
Tuesday February 22, 2005
The government's flagship literacy and numeracy lessons for primary
schools have made "significant improvements" in the past year but one
in three lessons are still no better than satisfactory, the schools
watchdog, Ofsted, said today.
The daily mathematics
lesson and literacy hour, which was introduced soon after Labour came
to power in 1997, saw initial rapid improvement literacy and numeracy
skills but since 2000 those improvements have stalled, leaving leading
educationalists predicting that the scheme's benefit has reached its
But last year 78% of
pupils reached Level 4 - the expected level for their ages - or above
in English and 74% reached Level 4 or above in mathematics.
David Bell, the chief
inspector of schools, said today: "There have been significant
improvements in literacy and numeracy standards since the introduction
of the national strategies. This is something that must be applauded."
However, he added
that other schools did not "have the confidence" to make the strategy
as successful as it could be.
Inspectors found that
although teaching in English and mathematics was improving, there were
still concerns that some teachers did not have the necessary subject
knowledge. As teachers focus on professional development in more
specialist subjects such as science and religious education they are
falling behind in more key subjects.
Mr Bell added: "I am
very pleased to see that, following the plateau in standards at the
end of Key Stage 2, standards have now begun to rise. Some schools are
beginning to embrace change and to explore greater flexibility within
"But others do not yet
have the confidence to embrace the Primary National Strategy in ways that
will build on the progress made to date and use it to continue to improve
excellence in teaching and pupils' enjoyment of learning.
"There are still schools
where children are not receiving the daily diet of good teaching that they
need in order to raise achievement further."
Schools minister Derek
Twigg said: "Results in Key Stage 2 (age 11) attainment tests in English
have gone up by 13 percentage points and in mathematics by 15 percentage
"This means that more
children than ever are reaching the expected standard in English and maths.
These results show that having consolidated high standards over recent
years, we now have a strong platform to build on."
The Statistics Commission
warned ministers last week that the rise in primary school test scores
"substantially overstates" the actual improvement in standards. The
watchdog said ministers "needed to be made fully aware of any caveats"
about the interpretation of test scores.
The shadow education
secretary, Tim Collins, said: "The fact that at least one in three primary
pupils go on to their senior school without being able to write properly
is one of the single biggest failings of eight years of Labour government.
"Ruth Kelly and her
predecessors have managed to get so hung-up on their departmental target
culture that they have lost sight of the underlying problem of classroom
literacy and numeracy.
"The Conservatives will
ensure parents have the choice of sending their children to schools where
traditional approaches to literacy have been adopted."
Ofsted report: The national literacy and numeracy strategies and the
primary curriculum (pdf)
Literacy support helps trailing pupils
No 10 ponders new literacy strategy
Reform on cards for literacy initiative
Department for Education and Skills: literacy strategy
Department for Education and Skills: numeracy strategy