considerable positive impact in primary schools, according to a new
report launched today by the Office for Standards in Education.
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
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
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
- 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
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.'
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
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
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.