Ofsted hints at raising KS2 English target

Written by: HTU | Published:

Ofsted has called upon the government to “consider" whether the end of primary school target of Level 4 is sufficiently high to provide an adequate foundation for success at secondary school.

Ofsted has called upon the government to “consider" whether the end of primary school target of Level 4 is sufficiently high to provide an adequate foundation for success at secondary school.

A report from the inspectorate says that it is not good enough that 80 per cent of children achieve Level 4 in literacy by the end of primary school.

Speaking this week, chief inspector Michael Wilshaw said this still meant that 100,000 pupils last year (one in five) did not reach the benchmark and that this rises to one in three of those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

He added that last year 45 per cent of pupils who achieved the lower end of Level 4 at age 11 did not achieve a Grade C in their GCSE English.

Launching the report, he said: “One of the first questions we need to ask is whether the national end of primary school target of Level 4 is sufficiently high to provide an adequate foundation for success at secondary school."

The inspectorate's report, Moving English Forward: Action To Raise Standards In English, includes a 10-point plan for improving English attainment across all phases of education.

The report says that schools should report to parents on their child's reading age alongside information on national curriculum levels. Also, from September, Ofsted will “prioritise for inspection schools with the lowest achievement levels in literacy".The study is based on visits to 133 primary schools, 128 secondary and four special schools in England over a three-year period during which 1,400 lessons were observed.It says that 70 per cent of the schools were good or outstanding for their English provision, although schools on a warning notice were not included in the study.

It found that the “most successful" schools identified the particular needs of their students and then ran a curriculum to meet their requirements. It said that teaching plans were clear about the key learning for students, while the tasks were meaningful and provided contexts where possible. Inspectors said the quality of teaching was good or outstanding in 70 per cent of the lessons.

However, they warned that in some lessons the quality of learning was hampered by a “number of myths" about what makes a good lesson – such as an overloading of activities, inflexible planning, and limited time set for students to work independently.

Elsewhere, the report said that all schools should develop policies to promote reading for enjoyment and should simplify lesson plans to focus on key learning objectives.

The report called upon the Department for Education (DfE) should publish research on the teaching of handwriting and spelling which should draw on national and international best practice.

Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said: “Good leadership is the key to good literacy in schools. Above all, this means being passionate about high standards of literacy for every single pupil, and creating a no-excuses culture both for pupils and for staff."However, the report got short shrift from some teachers. Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “Rather than producing a ten-step soundbite which merely restates existing practice, schools need support to develop classroom teaching, working together with good schools in their area."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, added: “It should not, for example, be forgotten that in 1995, only 45 per cent of pupils leaving primary school achieved the expected standard in English, a figure that had risen to 81 per cent by 2011."

A DfE spokesperson told Headteacher Update: “We want to raise standards in English as a matter of urgency and we are currently looking at this as part of our review of the national curriculum. We want England to move back up the international league tables and for children to leave school with the knowledge that will stand them in good stead for their future careers and adult life."

To read the report, visit the Ofsted website and for a full analysis of the publication, see the next edition of Headteacher Update, in schools from May 3.

• For more primary education news from Headteacher Update, click here.

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