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More lessons fail to make the grade

Specialist teacher shortages appear to be depressing quality at last. John Howson writes.

The recent report by the chief inspector of schools may have been generally upbeat, but it revealed a worrying increase in the percentage of secondary schools offering poor or unsatisfactory lessons.

Once again, inspectors found a higher percentage of the poorest lessons at key stage 3 than at key stage 4. Only in four subjects - design and technology, geography, information technology and physical education - was the percentage the same for both key stages.

At KS3, geography, information technology and PE lessons improved last year, but quality in all other subjects declind.

The proportion of schools providing some unsatisfactory or poor maths lessons doubled to 10 per cent. In modern languages, the increase was even greater - from 6 to 14 per cent. These are the worst figures for any subject.

Last year's success story was information technology. Only 8 per cent of schools were said to be offering poor lessons at KS4, compared with 16 per cent the previous year.

Overall, however, these figures suggest that the much-publicised dearth of secondary subject-specialists may finally be affecting the quality of teaching in some schools.

John Howson is managing director of Education Data Surveys. email

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