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Head gives trial a positive verdict

ALL Saints comprehensive in Mansfield had already made raising standards at key stage 3 a priority when it volunteered to become one of 14 Nottinghamshire schools to pilot the new strategy from last September.

Although it has raised workload, head Ken Daly says the strategy has allowed his school to re-evaluate teaching and embrace literacy and numeracy across all subjects.

A term after the pilot began, inspectors described 80 per cent of teaching at the 1,150-pupil Roman Catholic school as either good or very good. Mr Daly believes the strategy has played a significant role.

"We see it as part of the overall goal of driving up standards, rather than in isolation. If we can improve things at key stage 3, it will have a knock-on effect further up the school."

The level of prescription has been higher than Mr Daly expected, with teachers being told the exact number of minutes that should be spent on each task.

Staff are also concerned aboutthe fast pace of "catch-up" lessons for youngsters who have fallen behind in maths and English.

Mike Webster, the school's head of maths, said: "Pupils are spending just one short session on a topic that would previously have been spread over many lessons.

"But most of my colleagues are impressed with the structure of the lessons, with a focus on mental arithmetic in the first 10 minutes and a consolidation period at the end."

Mr Daly has been keen to involve all 76 staff in the new strategy, not just the 15 English and maths teachers.

The school received an extra pound;25,000 to take part in the pilot and hire supply teachers while staff attended training.

Despite a few teething problems, Mr Daly is confident the strategy has served "a useful purpose".

"Traditionally, there has been a lull among pupils in Year 8 when the buzz of starting secondary school has worn off. This initiative has helped provide a focus to their work."

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