'Super' scheme shows success

31st October 2003 at 00:00
England's "superteachers" are transforming the profession for the better but schools sometimes have unrealistically high expectations of their powers.

Inspectors reported today that advanced skills teachers, who receive an extra pound;5,000 a year to spread good practice, had significantly improved the quality of teaching and learning in more than three-quarters of schools.

The number of ASTs has rocketed since the scheme was launched in 1998, rising from fewer than 1,000 in January 2002 to more than 3,400 this month.

The Office for Standards in Education surveyed more than half of the ASTs in post last year and found that they were generally very hard-working and highly appreciated by schools. But inspectors said that several issues had to be addressed if the initiative was to maintain its momentum.

Among the concerns were:

* Many were taking an "unacceptably long time" to visit other schools;

* The schools that most appreciated AST's - those that were failing or had serious weaknesses - had the greatest problems recruiting them;

* Primary heads had difficulties finding supply cover when they visited other schools;

* Some schools in challenging circumstances had unreasonable expectations of what they could achieve in a short time.

One AST who has no difficulty visiting a variety of schools is dance teacher Sarah Waller, who works with different clusters of primary and secondary schools each month. Unusually, she is not employed by a school but by Cornwall Outdoors, a project run by the county's education authority.

"You have to be driven and passionate to be an AST," Mrs Waller said, "But I don't think it's right to call us 'superteachers'. It's flattering, but it's embarrassing."

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, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today