Headlines: November 5th, 2008

School pupils are benefiting from reforms which led to the recruitment of staff from a wider range of backgrounds and with different skills and life experiences. A report today from Ofsted says the impact has been greatest among underachieving students. It recommends, however, that schools put more effort into training their wider workforce.

Today’s report, “The deployment, training and development of the wider school workforce”, says that staff such as learning mentors and higher-level teaching assistants have had a positive impact on achievement. The effect, it says has been greatest among pupils who are most likely to truant, underachieve, or be excluded from school. Ofsted Inspectors also found the new staff played a valuable role in reaching out to parents who were previously reluctant to come into school or who did not know how to help their children.

Inspectors visited 23 schools, 13 of which had faced problems in communicating with parents or carers, some of whom were reluctant to talk to teachers because of their own bad experiences at schools. They often found it easier to relate to members of the wider workforce who lived in the local community.

Only six of the schools, however, had a consistent cycle of induction and training, performance management and career development for staff that focused on improving the knowledge and skills necessary for raising pupils’ achievement. The report says that to get the most from the wider workforce, schools need to focus on improving the quality and effectiveness of the training and development they provide.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said, “As this report has found, the wider workforce has an important role to play in improving children’s achievement, however all too often it was left to individual members of staff to identify and request professional development for themselves. It’s vital that schools invest time and money in evaluating and developing all their staff, not just teachers.”