The Times Educational Supplement

Schools News

Friday 2nd of April 2, 2010


Ofsted slates lack of professional training in non-core subjects

Narrow focus does little to improve teachers’ expertise and schools are failing to recognise ‘value for money’ of CPD courses, watchdog says By William Stewart.

Teachers ARE still not getting the training they need in individual subjects outside English and maths, Ofsted has found.

The watchdog’s report on contin­uing professional development (CPD) in schools also warns that schools do not pay enough attention to assessing the value for money of­fered by training programmes.

Inspectors visited 40 primary, sec­ondary, special and nursery schools previously judged to be “good” or “outstanding” in terms of the train­ing they offered teachers.

They found they were flexible when planning the training and offered it to teaching and non-teaching staff. But a lack of training related to specific subjects, first iden­tified in an Ofsted report on CPD in 2006, persisted.

“Despite investing time in substantial in-house training on generic issues, schools sometimes paid insufficient attention to considering the implications for individual subjects,” the new report says. “After a whole-school launch on the new key stage 3 curriculum, some subject departments did not get the specialist sup­port needed to adapt programmes to the new developments.”

The problem was particularly bad in primary schools but was also a fault in secondaries, Ofsted said.

The subject training secondary teachers did receive was “often nar-rowly focused” on preparation for new exam specifications rather than deepening professional expertise.

And where good external courses were available, they were undersubscribed, partly because schools did not give a priority to the subject.

“The effect on teaching and learn­ing is clear,” the report says. “Ofsted’s recent survey of primary teachers’ subject knowledge found that, in les­sons where teaching was ‘satisfactory’ and even in a few where it was judged to be ‘good’ overall, there were specific weaknesses in teachers’ subject knowledge, which meant that pupils’ achievement was not as high as it might have been.

“This also applied to secondary schools, particularly where they did not provide enough training in sub­jects taught by non-specialists.”

Citizenship and personal, social and health education were identified as having a particular lack of training.

Specialist training was more likely to be available in languages and PE in primaries that were part of a national initiative. But these were exceptions. Evaluation of CPD in schools was weak, even where provision was good, the inspectors found.

There were specific weaknesses in teachers’subject knowledge

“Senior managers relied on anec­dotal evidence and subjective impressions to judge the impact of training and support,” they report. “This sometimes led to a more positive view than was warranted.”

One secondary judged an initia­tive to improve pupil progress as successful even though its contextual value-added scores had remained static for four years.

“Weak evaluation gave too little at­tention to the value for money pro­vided by professional development programmes, despite the time and cost involved,” the report says. It calls on schools to ensure that subject knowledge is regularly updated and that most CPD is school-based.

Christine Blower, general secretary of teaching union the NUT, said: “The report makes a vital point that it is professional development, owned by teachers, which is the key to teach­ers’ self-confidence and knowledge about teaching and their subjects.

“There is every argument for Gov­ernment to drop the proposal of a licence to practise and develop a fully funded teacher entitlement to pro­fessional development.”

Friday 26th of March, 2010

Primary school language lessons depend on ‘brave amateurs’

THE PROGRAMME to introduce languages into primary schools has resulted in “amateurish” teaching with scant resources and potentially bad pronunciation, teachers will tell the ATL annual conference next week.

Helen Brook, who studied French at school, will describe teaching Spanish at her

Cam­bridgeshire primary as “terrifying” and potentially insulting to prop­erly trained languages teachers.

In a speech to the conference, she will claim that the Government should to re-evaluate the statutory teaching of languages in primaries, because more funding, training and curriculum time need to be made available.

She will say that many schools rely on brave members of staff to stay “two pages ahead” in the text book, in order to make language provision available.

She told The TES: “I think it’s re­ally commendable that children should be learning a modern lan­guage at primary school, but I don’t think the programme has been well thought out.

“There is a lack of funding, time and trained teachers. There needs to be more professionalism. I vol­unteered to teach Spanish, but I have the equivalent in Spanish to what Manuel from Fawlty Towers has in English.

“I haven’t a clue if I’m teaching the pupils anything wrongly, espe­cially the pronunciation. I’ve ended up really enjoying teaching it, but I was terrified when I started, and it is really amateurish.

“I also wonder about whether our secondary school colleagues find it insulting to them. They are prop­erly trained and I’m here allegedly teaching these children.”

She said she was also concerned that secondary teachers might end up having to “unteach” mistakes.

Ms Brook’s comments echo the conclusions of several recent academic studies into the impact of the primary languages drive, which was first announced in 2002.

Last September, a report from Manchester University described the delivery of the initiative as “catastrophically diverse”, while a study by Cambridge University found the scheme had had very little impact at secondary level.

Last July, the National Federa­tion for Educational Research con­cluded that nearly a quarter of primaries were unprepared for compulsory languages teaching, which will come into force in Year 3 of primary schools in 2011. By 2014 languages will be compulsory throughout key stage 2.

A spokesperson for the DeparTment for Children, Schools and Families said £7 million had been spent training 5,500 primary teachers with a languages specialism since 2002.

A further 900 training places are available for 2010/11.


We are not happy with comments like this one. “Porfavor” Please can we do it better? If you are a headteacher you should try to find the best for your pupils.

“There is a lack of funding, time and trained teachers. There needs to be more professionalism. I vol­unteered to teach Spanish, but I have the equivalent in Spanish to what Manuel from Fawlty Towers has in English”

By the way we do love Fawlty Towers “I Am Manuel from Barcelona” -good article-

This great article to learn a bit more about MFL in the schools  (Schools info).