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Staff's secret lesson plans

Surreptitious surfing is helping with the literacy and numeracy hours, reports Helen Ward

PRIMARY teachers are secretly downloading lesson plans from the internet because their heads disapprove of the off-the-peg aids.

Educational charity the Hamilton Trust surveyed 700 of its website users about its free plans for the literacy and numeracy hours. These suggest ideas for the start, middle and end of lessons.

One teacher told the trust: "The headteacher says he does not like staff using published plans. He is not aware that I access Hamilton but constantly praises my high level of planning."

The survey found that only 53 per cent of heads were positive about the English plans , although this rose to 67 per cent for maths.

In contrast, nine out of 10 inspectors who had spoken to teachers about using off-the-peg plans were positive about them.

John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said: "The plan is a simple list which teachers use as an aide-memoire. Our evidence is that some heads want to show inspectors the school's planning, irrespective of how helpful that is to teachers."

Eammon O'Kane, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "You do find that some headteachers insist upon far too much elaboration to worksheets and lesson notes."

The survey also found that teachers adapted three out of four plans to suit their class, although 30 per cent said they had to copy and paste the information into a standard school format. Most teachers surveyed said the website helped to cut their planning time by half, from between four to six hours a week to two to four hours a week.

The Department for Education and Skills, the Office for Standards in Education and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority published primary planning guidance last year which said using off-the-peg plans was acceptable.

The guidance advised teachers to work with colleagues when planning and said that using good quality plans written by colleagues or from the web would meet with Ofsted approval.

It also made clear to heads that standard presentation was not necessary and could create extra work for teachers.

It concluded that the effectiveness of planning should be judged by the quality of teaching and learning in lessons and pupils' progress.

Teacher, 38

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