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ADVANCED SKILLS TEACHERS HAVE IMPROVED QUALITY OF LEARNING

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Advanced Skills Teachers (ASTs) have helped significantly to improve ...
Advanced Skills Teachers (ASTs) have helped significantly to improve

teaching and learning in more than three quarters of the secondary

schools and two thirds of the primary schools inspected as part of an

Ofsted survey into the government scheme, according to a report

launched by Ofsted today.

Advanced Skills Teachers were introduced by the government in 1998 to

help schools attract and retain excellent classroom teachers,

increase staff motivation, raise pupils' achievement levels and

broaden the skills and knowledge base of schools. The survey found

ASTs are generally skilled teachers who promote high standards in

their home schools as well as in their outreach work.

The report reveals that the management and deployment of ASTs have

improved recently, largely as a result of more active management by

local education authorities of their outreach work. It also showed that ASTs lead good

training sessions for other teachers and are effective in improving

teaching and learning. Secondary ASTs, in particular, often provide

very good support for newly qualified and trainee teachers.

Ofsted's director of inspection, David Taylor, said: 'This report shows that the AST programme has become more and more effective in the majority of schools. It is gratifying to note the

direct and positive impact on the quality of teaching and learning. '

Areas for improvement in the AST scheme were also highlighted by

inspectors, who found:

- procedures are rarely in place for schools to make clear judgements

about the value for money ASTs are providing;

- the training needs of the teachers and the schools with which the

ASTs work, and the criteria for measuring their success in meeting

these needs, are not always sufficiently clearly identified;

- performance management is generally not used effectively to channel

and support the ASTs' work or their development needs;

- primary ASTs find it difficult to plan their outr each commitments

as the time they can give to their support role is frequently

unspecified by their head teachers;

- LEAs' support and management of ASTs' outreach activities is

essential;

- a few primary school head teachers struggle to cover lessons

effectively when the ASTs work away from their own classrooms,

relying on daily supply cover;

- schools in 'special measures' or having 'serious weaknesses' have

particular difficulties in attracting suitable applicants for AST

posts.

Mr Taylor concluded: 'I hope that schools will note the clear pointers to areas for the

future development of the scheme, especially its 'outreach'

functions. However, this is an encouraging report, which underlines

just how crucial good teachers are in school improvement.'

This report is based on a survey of the work carried out by ASTs in

primary, secondary and special schools by HMI in 2002/03.The report

provides examples of good practice along with suggested action points

for LEAs and schools.

NOTES

1. In 2001, Ofsted published a survey, entitled Advanced Skills

Teachers: A survey (HMI 1767) on the work of ASTs carried out by Her

Majesty's Inspectors (HMI) during the academic year 1999/2000. The

new report published today is based on a survey of a larger sample of

ASTs in primary, secondary and special schools, carried out by HMI in

2002/03. The inspection focused on the work of ASTs and their impact

on teaching, learning and standards in the home and outreach schools.

It also looked at how ASTs are recruited, trained, managed and

monitored. Visits were made to more than 60 schools in 27 LEAs, including county and small unitary

authorities, and metropolitan boroughs. In addition, a survey

questionnaire was sent to the 1,550 ASTs in post at the time (350

primary and 1,200 secondary), of which nearly 800 were returned and

subsequently analysed (a 55 per cent response).

2. Ofsted is a non-ministerial go vernment department established

under the Education (Schools) Act 1992 to take responsibility for the

inspection of all schools in England. Its role also includes the

inspection of local education authorities, teacher training

institutions and youth work. During 2001, Ofsted became responsible

for inspecting all 16-19 education and for the regulation of early

years childcare, including childminders.

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