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NATIONAL LITERACY AND NUMERACY STRATEGIES ARE BENEFITING PRIMARY SCHOOLS

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The national literacy and numeracy strategies continue to have a ...
The national literacy and numeracy strategies continue to have a

considerable positive impact in primary schools, according to a new

report launched today by the Office for Standards in Education.

The national literacy and numeracy strategies and the primary

curriculum report summarises the standards attained by pupils in

English and mathematics at Key Stages 1 and 2 and reports on the

quality of teaching and curriculum organisation. It also identifies

the areas where further work is needed, particularly in developing

pupils' talk and helping them to use reading, writing and mathematics

in other subjects.

David Bell, chief inspector of schools, said: 'The two national

strategies have been effective in improving teaching in English and

mathematics, and other subjects. Teachers are now much clearer about

what they want pupils to learn and lessons have a better structure.

The National Literacy Strategy has been particularly successful,

because it has raised teachers' expectations of what pupils should be

able to read and write in other subjects, as well as in English.

'However, despite the progress that has been made since the

strategies began, teaching is still unsatisfactory in one in eight

lessons. Weak subject knowledge is a consistent feature in such

teaching, with teachers not knowing enough to make sure their pupils

make progress. Even where the teaching is otherwise satisfactory,

pupils have too few opportunities to talk about what they are

learning. Teachers need to do more to improve opportunities for

pupils to discuss their work and collaborate in lessons in all

subjects.'

The two strategies have brought about an overall improvement in the

quality of teaching of literacy and mathematics, and have

successfully introduced teachers to a broader range of teaching

approaches. The quality of teaching in the literacy hour and daily

mathematics lesson continues to be good in just over half of all

lessons, with one third being satisfactory.

The management and organisation of the literacy hour and daily

mathematics lesson are generally good and teaching assistants

continue to play an important and effective role the delivery of the

strategies.

There has been a strong emphasis on 'booster' classes and other

support to raise attainment, but in too many instances this support

is not directed sharply enough on the pupils that need it most. There

is still further to go in making sure that teachers focus exactly on

what pupils need to learn, especially for those who are in danger of

not meeting the expected level by the age of 11.

Links between the strategies and other curriculum areas are

insufficiently developed, and schools do not make best use of

foundation subjects as the context for enhancing pupils' development

in literacy and numeracy. Schools are beginning to adopt a flexible

approach in deciding how much importance they give to each subject,

but they do not always consider sufficiently how to provide a

balanced and coherent curriculum.

The publication of the results of the national tests in August this

year showed that, at the end of Key Stage 2, the proportion of pupils

gaining the expected level (level 4) for an 11 year old has not

changed since 2000 in either English or mathematics. The report

warns: 'This year's results suggest that success in meeting the 2006

targets will prove extremely demanding.'

The report recommends that:

- The government should continue to provide support for local

education authorities in dealing with schools where leadership and

management are weak, and direct attention and resources to

underperformance in LEAs and schools.

- LEAs should focus on schools where leadership and management of

the strategies are weak; provide support for schools where teachers

have weak subject knowledge; support schools in implementing a more

flexible curricul um; and provide appropriate training for the

non-core subjects.

- All schools should provide support for teachers with weak subject

knowledge; ensure that the development of pupils' oral language

skills is given appropriate emphasis; set and monitor curricular

targets for individuals and groups of pupils, and ensure that

intervention programmes are focused on those pupils most in need of

support.

To implement the primary national strategy, all schools should ensure

that pupils are able to apply their learning in literacy and

mathematics across the primary curriculum, and should provide time

and professional development for teachers with responsibility for the

management and leadership of the non-core subjects.

David Bell concluded: 'Much has been achieved in primary schools

since the introduction of the national strategies. Teachers teach

better and pupils learn more. But while some primary schools are in a

strong position to develop the 'rich and exciting' curriculum

envisaged in the government's Primary National Strategy, others have

much further to go.

'This report is very clear about the importance of strong leadership

and management and high quality teaching in developing the sort of

curriculum that is best for pupils' learning. I hope that schools

will read this report carefully. Teaching and learning in primary

schools need to be good throughout the whole curriculum, not just in

English and mathematics.'

NOTES

1. The national literacy and numeracy strategies and the primary

curriculum is published today on Ofsted's website at www.ofsted.gov.uk

2. The National Literacy Strategy was introduced into English

primary schools in the autumn term 1998, and the National Numeracy

Strategy was introduced one year later. They were intended to

bring about a dramatic improvement in standards in English and

mathematics. The Primary National Strategy is intended to extend the

support p rovided by the literacy and numeracy strategies to all the

foundation subjects.

3. The government's targets for 2002 - that 80% of 11 year olds should

gain at least level 4 in English and 75% should gain the same in

mathematics in the end of key stage national tests in 2002 - were not

met. Before the 2002 results were known, the government had set

higher targets for 2004: that 85% of 11 year olds should gain at

least level 4 in English and mathematics, and that 35% of 11 year

olds should reach the more demanding level 5 in both subjects. The

government hopes that these targets will now be met by 2006.

4. Ofsted inspected the implementation and impact of the NLS in a

nationally representative sample of 300 primary schools from 1998 to

2002, and the NNS from 1999 to 2002. The evaluation continues from

2002 to 2004 with two new nationally representative samples of 120

schools for each strategy, which provide the evidence base for this

report. In addition, Ofsted inspected two NLNS pilot projects and

conducted a small survey in the Service Children's Education

Authority.

5.Ofsted is a non-ministerial government 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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