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Praise for better KS3 teaching

A major government strategy to improve teaching in the early years of secondary school has been a success, according to teachers and local authority advisers.

The key stage 3 strategy is making a "significant contribution to teaching and learning", providing better-paced lessons and improved support for teachers, research by the National Foundation for Educational Research found.

However, these changes have yet to lead to improvements in test results, according to the survey of half of England's local authorities and interviews with 36 school staff. And there is concern that funding for the strategy will be lost in the long-term.

The strategy, introduced in 2001, which cost pound;670 million this year, has attempted to provide more structure to the teaching of English, maths, science, information and communication technology and foundation subjects.

Three quarters of the 75 authorities taking part believed that it had improved teaching and learning, 55 per cent said the strategy had improved the pace of lessons.

Local authorities and schools felt well-supported and approved of the quality of teaching resources, said the research which was commissioned by the Local Government Association. Many valued the opportunity it provided to discuss their teaching.

But one in four authorities reported that the strategy had received limited support from school managers, especially in selective schools, said the researchers.

Staff shortages were also an issue for some schools, one authority commenting that "high turnover and teacher shortages mean that there are no teachers in some departments to implement the strategy".

Among the 14 local authority staff interviewed, the consensus was that funding for the strategy, though secure for two years, would cease after that, leaving some to question its sustainability.

Copies of Key Stage 3 National Strategy: LEA and School Perceptions are available from the NFER's publications unit, at pound;7 including postage.

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