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Fewer poor lessons expected as inadequate staff leave

CHRIS Woodhead once claimed there were 15,000 poor teachers and his assertion springs to mind again as the Government unveils a scheme to ease inadequate teachers out of the profession.

According to inspection data, the percentage of poor lessons seen in secondaries has fallen over the past four years. Last year, only one in 50 English lessons was unsatisfactory. History and geography teachers matched that performance.

RE is the least well-taught subject but its inspection figures improved slightly (7 per cent of lessons were poor, compared with 8 per cent the previous year).

The chief inspector's recently-published annual report identified subjects where the percentage of poor lessons at key stages 3 or 4 had risen.

Despite the shortage of teachers in the subject, inspectors saw fewer poor maths lessons.

Languages also improved significantly. How far this is due to schools ceasing to teach languages to "difficult" pupils is not clear.

Overall, four subjects at KS3 had fewer poor lessons than last year and four recorded no change. Four saw standards fall. At KS4 six subjects improved and six worsened.

Subjects that struggle to attract specialist teachers tend to have more poor lessons. The problem is more noticeable at KS3 than 4, suggesting more competent teachers teach exam classes. As recruitment improves, the percentage of poor lessons should continue to fall. Helping "poor" teachers quit may speed up the process even more.

John Howson is a director of Education Data Surveys

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