Heat turned on secondary staff

26th January 2001 at 00:00
HISTORY, geography, art and language teachers face unprecedented intervention in their classrooms as part of the drive to raise standards in the early secondary years.

Ministers plan to shape teaching in every secondary subject following the schemes for literacy and numeracy which start in September in response to concerns that the teaching of 11 to 14-year-olds is weak.

The programme will overhaul teaching methods and provide recommended lesson structures and extension work for the brightest, under plans from the Department for Education and Employment's standards and effectiveness unit.

But pilot schools are already complaining of "overload".

The schools have been trying out ministers' strategies for key stage 3 English, maths, science and ICT. This term they began doing the same for all national curriculum subjects.

Education Secretary David Blunkett announced the shift in focus from primary to secondary standards in January last year after concerns about lack of progress at key stage 3.

He launched new targets fo 14-year-olds and the pilot schemes to raise standards in English, maths, science and ICT.

The new strategy called "Transforming learning in foundation subjects" covers most aspects of teaching in history, geography, languages, art, music, design and technology and PE.

It aims for "a clear focus on teaching, especially learning objectives for individual lessons, setting pupil targets, teaching styles, plenary and extension work and greater continuity from primary to secondary school."

But heads at pilot schools say the programme is too heavy a burden.

Tony Maxwell, head of Barking Abbey school, Barking, said: "We want to be involved but the speed with which literacy and numeracy was dropped on (secondary) schools led to enormous difficulties."

John Hall, head of Hagley Park high, Rugeley, said what had begun as an English and maths programme, now encompassed the entire curriculum.

He said "I just don't think this has been thought through. The frightening thing is what will happen when it goes countrywide."

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