More lessons fail to make the grade

13th April 2001 at 01:00
Specialist teacher shortages appear to be depressing quality at last. John Howson writes.

The recent report by the chief inspector of schools may have been generally upbeat, but it revealed a worrying increase in the percentage of secondary schools offering poor or unsatisfactory lessons.

Once again, inspectors found a higher percentage of the poorest lessons at key stage 3 than at key stage 4. Only in four subjects - design and technology, geography, information technology and physical education - was the percentage the same for both key stages.

At KS3, geography, information technology and PE lessons improved last year, but quality in all other subjects declind.

The proportion of schools providing some unsatisfactory or poor maths lessons doubled to 10 per cent. In modern languages, the increase was even greater - from 6 to 14 per cent. These are the worst figures for any subject.

Last year's success story was information technology. Only 8 per cent of schools were said to be offering poor lessons at KS4, compared with 16 per cent the previous year.

Overall, however, these figures suggest that the much-publicised dearth of secondary subject-specialists may finally be affecting the quality of teaching in some schools.

John Howson is managing director of Education Data Surveys. email

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today