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Are half of us rubbish?

Ofsted in their infinite wisdom have deemed that half of Maths teaching in England is not up to scratch.

The focus appears to be ‘teaching to the test’, now who’d of thought schools might reort to such a thing when the other option is to be labled as failing?

I hope that this is a shot across the Government’s bow about the high stakes testing / league table problem that blights our schools, but unfortunately the reporting in the press lays much of the blame at the teacher’s door.  I have seen no mention in the press of the shortage of specialist Maths teachers in relation to this figure of ‘half’.

We are working hard with out pupils to increase the understanding of Mathematics, in particular with our new Y7s and the focus on their Personal Learning & Thinking Skills and developing an understanding of cross-curricular links.  This is incredibly difficult to achieve in the time frames we have and the pressures of resluts and league tables.

Balls apparently wants to win the ‘hearts and minds of teachers’ today by enshrining in law the 10% non-contact time.  In my experience, schools have been good at granting this time for some years now and the strength of teaching unions ensure it happens.  Good headline-making it may be but this will have little impact on the real pressures that we face in the job.  I voluntarily give up some of my 10% time to mentor small groups of key pupils to ensure they get their grade Cs, and all because of the legacy of league tables.

As our city is besieged by MPs this week it remains to be seen if any real change will be promised to the profession.

Disclaimer: as with everything on this blog, these are solely my views and do not represent those of my school or my LEA.

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  1. Dan, no subject specialist wants to hear that someone or some regulatory body deems unsatisfactory half of the teaching that goes on within that subject.

    But, two thoughts:
    1. Maths is a shortage subject. In my experience, those teachers in shortage, core subjects have very different attitudes than others. You can get away with a lot more if you’re vital to an organisation. 😉

    2, If this ‘shot across the bows’ leads to less emphasis on high-stakes testing and teaching towards those tests, so much the better!

    Just my $0.02… 😀

  2. Thanks Doug, in reply:

    1. It’s a fair point 😉 Ourselves and English are, for the time being at least, flavour of the month. We all know the reason for this at present. I think it’s a shame so much emphasis (and lets be honest, funding) is placed on us at present to the detriment of other subjects.

    2. Let’s hope so!

    I think it’s interesting also that the 40% of lessons deemed ‘satisfactory’ are in fact being classified as not good enough. Another way to look at the statistics would be to say that despite the chronic shortages in many areas only 5% of teaching has been deemed ‘unsatisfactory’. Perhaps Ofsted need a new word to describe that calibre of lessons?! Lies, damned lies and statistics 🙂

  3. Well exactly. At one point they were championing the number of lessons that were satisfactory, now they’re saying that 40% are ‘merely’ satisfactory.

    It’s all politics. Which is why I don’t think politicians should be in charge of education.

  4. I think we all agree that there has been too much political interference in the education sector – just look at the number of new initiatives and strategies since the national curriculum came in 20 years ago. With the introduction of league tables and CVA scores, schools are ‘named and shamed’ if their pupils don’t do well, so who is to blame them from teaching to the test. What we need is a change in emphasis from the top.

    I’m in a fortunate position and have a view point that many teachers do not. I spend a day a week working in other schools around the authority, and it gives me a snap shot of local schools and teachers. I tend to get sent to weaker schools, but not always. Within my own subject I see teachers that struggle with lesson delivery for a variety of reasons. I’ve seen lessons from established teachers that I would grade unsatisfactory (I’ve even delivered some of them myself!).

    I wouldn’t agree with a report that suggests 50% of teaching in any subject is unsatisfactory but I’d suggest the figure is higher than most people realise! (or maybe I just have high standards)

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