Thursday 11 October 2007

The schools revolution

We regularly read in the press claims either that standards haven't risen or have deteriorated under Labour, this despite factual evidence showing the contrary to be true. What has also happened in recent years - a change familiar to most people working in schools - is that there has been a big cultural shift in school staffrooms, where there are nearly 150,000 more support staff than a decade ago. (And, yes, that is where a lot of the extra money for education has gone). Given how important this is to the real world of schools, it is perhaps unsurprising that a report from Ofsted earlier this week describing the impact of such changes in schools went largely unnoticed. Here are some of its key findings:

  • More than three quarters of teachers interviewed believed they have greater control over their work and more time to plan lessons, mark books and collaborate with colleagues thanks to a "revolutionary shift'' in school working practices.

  • Teachers felt they had greater control over their work, had time to plan collaboratively, develop resources, keep up with assessment and liaise with colleagues, improving their lessons as a result.

  • Most schools believed strongly that standards were rising as a result of the reforms.

  • Pupils are benefiting from increased support from this wider workforce. Deploying adults with different skills is allowing schools to improve the care and guidance for vulnerable pupils and those at risk of exclusion.
  • The reforms were helping to extend and enhance the curriculum in nearly three quarters of the 99 schools visited.

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