'It's as if we'd never been away';Digest

24th September 1999 at 01:00
Diane Hofkins looks at what's new and what's changed for the autumn term

Any teachers who have just returned from a long sojourn on Mars, and were innocently expecting a quiet term, will be amazed at the number of initiatives taking off this autumn. With the philosophy that when the pressures seem overwhelming it always helps to make a list, TES Primary has compiled a rundown of the demands, expectations, and guidelines coming your way Numeracy Strategy

The biggest demand on primary schools is the introduction of the daily, structured maths lesson, lasting from 45 minutes to an hour. While it is not strictly mandatory, and is meant to be used flexibly, the pressure is on to meet Government targets and satisfy OFSTED inspectors. All primary schools have received the comprehensive teaching framework covering termly expectations and strategies, and training in its use has begun. Added to the National Literacy Strategy launched a year ago, the daily numeracy lesson means every teacher is expected to teach up to two hours of Government-endorsed English and maths each day.

Home-school agreements

Under the School Standards and Framework Act, all schools must have home-school agreements in place at the start of this term. These are to be drawn up in consultation with parents and pupils, and governors are obliged to make "reasonable efforts" to get all parents to sign them. There is no legal recourse if either party fails to live up to its commitments. The Secretary of State wants the agreements to cover: the standard of education; the ethos of the school; attendance; discipline and behaviour; homework and the information parents and schools give to one another.

Induction year

Every newly-qualified teacher employed on or after September 1 1999 must satisfactorily complete an induction year in order to retain Qualified Teacher Status. All new teachers should have only a 90 per cent timetable for the first year to leave time for planned development, preparation and training. Each will be assigned a mentor responsible for co-ordinating support and assessment. The vast majority are expected to pass, but there will be only one chance. However, anyone who fails has a right of appeal. To look at the Department for Education and Employment's circular on induction, visit its website on www.dfee.gov.uk.

Curriculum 2000

Copies of the revised national curriculum will be sent to schools this autumn, after half-term. Starting next September schools will again be required to teach the full curriculum requirements for each subject (albeit slimmer than in the past), as well as the literacy hour and a daily maths lesson. The final version contains only minor changes from the draft proposals published last May (see TES W Primary May 28 edition), but in history junior pupils will be required to study the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Tudors.

Speaking and Listening

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has published guidance on how to teach and assess speaking and listening in primary schools. Officials want children to spend eight hours a term practising how to become confident speakers and listeners. They have devised a teaching framework for this aspect of the English national curriculum - which some teachers fear is being neglected - similar to the National Literacy Strategy document for reading and writing. It advises on ways to provide contexts for talk and drama, to boost communication and self-expression, to draw out the less-confident and to extend vocabulary.

Teachers are also encouraged to help children see the value of talk, for instance, by setting up activities where children are the experts and genuinely have information to tell others.

The document suggests classroom activities for each term, and shows how speaking and listening can be taught across the curriculum, often without taking up extra time. Teaching Speaking and Listening in Key Stages 1 and 2 is available from the QCA's orderline on 01787 884444, pound;6 (pound;3 to schools).

Additional literacy support

All primaries have received a set of materials to help eight and nine-year-olds who have fallen behind in literacy. Training courses for teachers are taking place this term. The materials are meant for use in the literacy hour's 20-minute group teaching time.

The government is spending more than pound;22 million on extra classroom helpers to assist the targeted pupils, who will be in the cohort of 11-year-olds expected to reach David Blunkett's literacy target of 80 per cent at level 4 in 2002.

* Phone lifeline

Teacherline, the first free national telephone counselling and support service for the 450,000 teachers in England and Wales, opened this month.

The service aims to keep teachers in the profession by finding solutions to problems at work and at home and is part-funded by the DfEE. Call 020 7554

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