Poor Teaching Skills `Are Undermining Literacy Results'
Cassidy, Sarah, The Independent (London, England)
PRIMARY SCHOOL teachers' poor grasp of English and maths is undermining the Government's literacy and numeracy strategies, an official evaluation has concluded.
Gaps in teachers' knowledge of their subject and weaknesses in their teaching methods are threatening to limit improvements in reading, writing and numeracy, the analysis for the Department for Education and Skills found.
The report, by a team of academics from Toronto University, concluded that it was difficult to assess the effect of the strategies on pupils' learning. While literacy and numeracy scores had risen significantly between 1997 and 2002, much of the increases had occurred before the introduction of the two strategies - literacy in 1998 and numeracy in 1999.
The team, led by Professor Michael Fullan, also warned ministers against setting ever higher targets for schools, arguing that this would backfire when staff began to regard the goals as unrealistic.
But this advice came too late for the Government, which has already set new and higher targets for primary schools, despite failing to meet the previous goals in the summer.
Soon after coming to power in 1997, the Labour government set challenging targets which which required 80 per cent of 11-year- olds to reach a required standard in English, and 75 per cent in maths, by 2002. But after a strong start, the improvements tailed off and both targets were missed.
Despite this failure, ministers have repeated their desire to push ahead with more demanding goals that require 85 per cent of students to reach the standard in English and maths by 2004.
The team of academics highlighted the weakness of some primary teachers' knowledge. "For [the strategies] to succeed in the ways that strategy leaders believe are possible, many teachers …
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Publication information: Article title: Poor Teaching Skills `Are Undermining Literacy Results'. Contributors: Cassidy, Sarah - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: January 28, 2003. Page number: 9. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.