Headlines: June 19th, 2009

English teaching is excellent in some schools says Ofsted, but there is a wide gap between the most effective schools and the rest. Too much English teaching is no better than satisfactory. In a new report, Ofsted calls for best practice to be spread more effectively and better use to be made of ICT

Although standards in English in schools are improving, they are not rising fast enough. High standards are being achieved where schools have strong direction from leaders who understand the subject’s importance and place it at the centre of their drive for improvement. Lack of leadership and direction is affecting performance elsewhere.

There are also variations within schools. Boys are still lagging behind girls and this gap in performance becomes evident early on at school. Some minority ethnic groups achieve less well than others. Standards attained by white British boys entitled to free school meals are among the lowest.

Pupils respond well where activities are engaging and give them a good stimulus to read more widely and to express their ideas in speech and writing. Information and communication technology is being used very successfully in some schools to engage pupils and motivate them to develop literacy skills.

Ofsted has called for best practice to be identified and disseminated more effectively and for teachers to be encouraged to find out how to use information and communication technology more effectively to promote wider reading. Schools are also urged to review their curriculum for English in the light of developments in ICT to ensure that all the needs of their pupils are met and to create opportunities for independent learning into the English curriculum systematically. There is also a need to improve the quality of homework.