Higher standards but low morale

20th October 2000 at 01:00
he National Numeracy Strategy has succeeded in raising standards in maths attainment and maths teaching, but at considerable cost to teachers' workloads and school budgets, a survey of more than 1,000 schools by the National Association of Head Teachers has found. The survey records a big improvement both in numeracy and in pupils' attitudes to maths since the NNS was implemented. The proportion of teachers with a high or very high level of subject knowledge has also increased.

But the strategy has increased teachers' workloads in two thirds of schools, and reduced the morale of nearly a quarter of teachers. While respondents noted appreciatively that the NNS was more flexible and less prescriptive than the literacy strategy, nearly a fifth of respondents also noted the strain teachers were under. In spite of hard work and commitment, te heads reported, implementation of the two strategies had left staff exhausted and under pressure. "Taking into account the combined effects of both the strategies, teacher overload has reached worrying proportions," according to NAHT.

The financial toll has also been high, with 81 per cent of the schools surveyed incurring costs over and above those covered by central Government. Nationally, it is estimated that schools have had to find an extra pound;11.4 million for staffing and pound;20m for books and other resources. The time available for non-core subjects such as history, PE, design and technology, geography, music and art has been reduced in 80 per cent of schools. In 37 per cent of schools, the strategy has had a negative impact on children's behaviour. "This needs to be monitored and the reasons evaluated," says the report.

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