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Where is the cash for training?

"If we just slogged through the national curriculum it would be boring for the staff and the kids," says Judy Evans.

The head of Kingston Park primary school, in Newcastle upon Tyne, backs the Government's drive to boost literacy and numeracy standards. But she says this must not be at the expense of creativity and other subjects.

"We have to be creative in the ways we teach literacy and numeracy through other subjects and topics to ensure children get a broad and interesting education," she said. She cited the example of her Year 5 pupils who studied India earlier this term. They were set numeracy tasks based on forms of Indian art that feature dots in symmetrical patterns.

Teachers at the school, which has 470 pupils, have also this term used the theme of Christmas to teach literacy and numeracy skills to children. Year 2 pupils were asked to write down instructions to make a paper angel. The instructions accounted for part of their daily literacy work.

Mrs Evans agrees with David Bell, the chief inspector that better training is needed to cut the proportion of weak teaching and to raise standards.

Training was particularly important to help staff learn to use new technology and keep up with changes to the curriculum, she said.

"Teachers can and should improve, but in order to achieve this the Government needs to stop cutting funding," she said. "We need more money to free up teacher time for training and watching good practice."

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