Split over impact on standards

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
Primary heads who took part in the TES survey are divided over whether letting teachers do planning in school time will raise standards.

The most common view was that standards would rise, held by almost a third of primary heads polled. One noted: "Teachers will be less tired." Another said using a music specialist providing cover would mean better music lessons. But a quarter thought standards would fall and a quarter said there would be no effect.

The other 20 per cent did not like to predict how the move to give planning, preparation and assessment time will pan out. Reasons for thinking standards would fall, include:

* supply teachers not being as effective as staff members;

* children's behaviour being affected;

* increased workload for the headteacher, now covering for staff on PPA time;

* less able pupils losing support of teaching assistants who are needed to cover.

Dom Magner, head of 318-pupil Milford primary, Nottingham, said PPA time for teachers was "a very good idea" but his school did not have the funds to cope: "We are using teaching assistants as cover. But we have not got enough money to replace those assistants while they cover classes. So five children that would have been supported by them will have that support withdrawn."

Secondary heads are more optimistic than primary about the effects of non-contact time. Just under half polled by The TES thought standards would rise, while only 4 per cent felt they would fall.

Pamela Wright, head of Wade Deacon high school, Widnes, spent around Pounds 37,000 on supply teachers last year to ensure marking and preparation time for staff. Some teaching assistants are now training to be higher-level teaching assistants. She said: "Teachers require PPA time. They need that time when they know they can go and collect resources and prepare their lessons."

* A snapshot study of 50 primary schools who took part in the TES survey found PE is the subject which teachers are most likely to hand over in September.

Half of schools polled said teachers would take fewer PE lessons, with many using a sports coach instead. Music specialists are to be used in 30 per cent of schools. Teaching assistants are most likely to take art, more than one in four schools say assistants will cover some art classes.

The subjects most likely to be taught solely by teachers are maths (98 per cent of schools), science (95 per cent) and English (93 per cent). One fifth of primaries say teachers will take every subject and one fifth say no subject will be taken solely by teachers.

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