Headlines: January 24th, 2002

An OFSTED report on the pilot implementation of new measures to improve secondary schooling offers a vote of confidence in the strategy.Key Stage 3, the period between age 11 and 14, aims to build on the successes that the Government has seen in primary schools.

The basic idea is to force up standards by setting specific goals to improve principally English and maths. Children are tested and schools are measured by how they perform.

‘The Key Stage 3 Strategy: Evaluation of the first year of the pilot’, says that the strategy has led to improvements in teaching in about five out of six of the schools visited. Sixty four schools were visited in all.

It reports the frameworks set for teaching English and maths are sound and lessons are better organised, with clearer objectives, and work is covered at a faster pace.

The report also says that the recruitment and retention of staff has hampered progress in about half of the mathematics departments visited.

The pilot, which began in April 2000, has highlighted long-standing weaknesses in the transfer of information on pupils moving from primary to secondary schools. Information is often not being received by secondary schools early enough and in a full enough form – and schools do not always use what they receive well enough.

OFSTED says that important lessons have been learned by piloting before national roll-out. This began in September 2001 and Key Stage 3 methods should be taught in all state schools by the end of the school year in July 2002.

The report is on the OFSTED website at www.ofsted.gov.uk