Schools must go up a gear

HMIE is determined that better learning should flow from the national teachers' agreement

THE INSPECTORATE made clear this week it does not expect to follow a trail which directly links the pound;2 billion teachers' agreement to pupils'

exam scores.

But, although at least one union leader accused it of "rewriting history"

by imposing measurement standards on the agreement which were never part of the deal, HMIE also signalled its determination that schools should be able to demonstrate an indirect link through improvements in classroom practice, which should then feed into improved attainment.

Speaking to The TESS following publication this week of the major HMIE report on the agreement, Teaching Scotland's Children, Annette Bruton, chief inspector with particular responsibility for the inspection of education authorities and school improvement, said inspectors would have expected to see some progress by now towards improved teaching and learning in the classroom, "attributable at least in part to the agreement".

But their visits to schools over the past five to six years have shown that the evaluation of learning and teaching points to a "broadly static"

picture. There were too many instances where learning was merely "adequate", she said.

Inspectors will now expect to see "a gearing up in practice", Ms Bruton said. This ought to be possible through teachers making use of the increased flexibility they are allowed in their teaching, the encouragement they have been given to innovate and their ability to make curricular adaptations.

Other aspects of the agreement which the inspectorate expects to pay dividends for learning and teaching are the support from classroom assistants, the reduction in class teaching hours and the major investment in continuing professional development.

The results HMIE wants to see include more independence in pupils'

learning, greater personalised learning, increasing work on collaborative tasks in the classroom and "well-focused direct teaching".

Ms Bruton added: "There is some evidence these things are beginning to happen and there are examples of outstanding practice in many schools, but it is not yet sufficiently widespread in enough schools across the country."

The inspectorate believes that if the review of the chartered teacher initiative, ordered by Hugh Henry, the Education Minister, results in more high quality teachers joining the programme, they are "a potential lever"

for the changes HMIE desires. Ms Bruton said chartered teachers should become "leaders of learning and in the sharing of good practice" in their schools.

Inspectors will not report separately on the agreement in the future. It will be monitored as part of their regular evaluations of schools, and progress reported nationally as part of HMIE's next three-year "state of the nation" report on Scottish education in 2009.

Full details, p4-5

Leader, p 20

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