GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE TO THE COMMITTEE'S
EIGHTH REPORT 2000-2001:
STANDARDS AND QUALITY IN EDUCATION: THE
ANNUAL REPORT OF HER MAJESTY'S CHIEF INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS 1999-2000
Memorandum from the Department for Education
Teacher recruitment and retention
The Government shares the view expressed by the Committee
and by HM Chief Inspector that adequate numbers of well-qualified
teachers are essential to the continuing improvement in standards
to which we are committed. Over the last Parliament, the number
of teachers employed in maintained schools in England rose to
its highest level since 1984. We have pledged to secure a further
increase of 10,000 by 2006.
The measures that we put in place during the last
Parliament will help to underpin that pledge. £6,000 training
bursaries have been available to postgraduate trainees in all
subjects since September 2000, with further £4,000 "golden
hellos" payable after induction to those who have qualified
in and go on to teach mathematics, science, modern languages,
technology and English. These incentives have already produced
the first rise in recruitment to initial teacher training since
1992/93, but their effect on teacher numbers will not become apparent
until the first training bursary recipients take up their first
teaching jobs this autumn. For mature graduates, we have expanded
the school-based Graduate Teacher Programme to 2,250 places a
year, supported by funding of up to £17,000 per trainee.
There has been buoyant demand from schools for places on this
programme. We also want to encourage more qualified teachers who
are currently out of the service back into the profession. Relaxation
of the rules of the teachers' pension scheme is encouraging early
retirees back into teaching, while 1,350 fully-funded places on
refresher courses are being made available for returners below
retirement age. In addition, the Government has proposed to offer
a "welcome-back bonus" to those who return to the profession
between Easter and Christmas 2001.
On 3 May 2001, OFSTED published the report, Reducing
The Burden of Inspection, which focuses on the mechanics of the
inspection process and on changes that can be implemented in the
short term, to reduce the absolute burden on schools in general,
the demands on particular categories of schools and also schools'
own perceptions of what they need to do to prepare for inspection.
The Department worked closely with OFSTED in drawing up these
measures as part of the wider strategy to reduce the bureaucratic
burden on schools.
We welcome OFSTED's timely action in implementing
our commitment in the Schools: Building on Success Green
Paper, published in February, "to discuss with OFSTED how
to achieve further substantial reductions in the bureaucracy associated
with inspection within a few months."
The Government has always recognised that raising
standards of writing would be an even greater challenge than improving
reading, not least because of the need to employ new methods of
teaching and learning. The National Literacy Strategy, introduced
in September 1998 and supported by a comprehensive programme of
professional development for teachers, has already had an impact
on standards of writing amongst younger pupils. The proportion
of seven year olds achieving at least level 2B in their Key Stage
1 writing test has increased by 8 percentage points between 1997
and 2000 and OFSTED have reported improved performance in writing
amongst pupils in years 3,4 and 5 pupils. In addition, a recent
independent survey of headteachers showed that nearly 80 per cent
believed that the National Literacy Strategy was improving the
teaching of writing
We recognised last summer, however, that more needed
to be done to raise standards of writing and we made this a top
priority for the 2000/01 school year. In September 2000, we published
the Grammar for Writing guidance, which helps teachers of 7-11
year olds to teach the basic principles of grammar. Some 50,000
Year 5 and Year 6 teachers attended training during the autumn
of 2001 and early spring 2001 to support them in using that guidance
and many teachers of children in Years 3 and 4 have been trained
since then. In May 2001, we published complementary guidance for
teachers of 4-7 year olds, Developing Early Writing, which provides
practical support on improving handwriting, spelling, punctuation
and sentence construction.
In addition, we have given additional funding to
providers of Initial Teacher Training to run a day's course on
the teaching of writing, using materials specially written for
the purpose. This has been run for all primary student teachers
undertaking their final teaching practice (over 11,000 nationally)
and for the teacher with whose class they are working. We have
also created a national network of 300 Beacon schools with writing
within their area of expertise, and made available a range of
on-line guidance for teachers on teaching and marking writing.
The 2000 Key Stage 2 results showed that, over the
last two years, the attainment gap between boys and girls in English
narrowed from 16 percentage points in 1998 to 9 percentage points
The National Literacy Strategy has a number of features
that particularly support schools and teachers in their work to
raise standards amongst boys. Research into this issue has shown
that boys benefit from interactive teaching, being taught at a
brisk pace and from a clear lesson structure. These elements are
incorporated in the Literacy Hour where children are encouraged
to play an active part in lessons by answering questions, contributing
to discussions and explaining their choices and opinions. The
literacy strategy's Framework for teaching also gives clear objectives
for writing, emphasises links between writing and reading and
promotes the use of a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts.
Boys have also responded well to the Strategy's emphasis on setting
children clear targets for improvement. We recognise that there
is still more to be done to improve boys' performance, and we
will shortly be producing specific guidance on raising literacy
standards amongst boys. We have also commissioned a three-year
longitudinal research project from Homerton College, Cambridge,
to identify successful strategies for raising boys' achievement
We welcome the interest taken by the Select Committee
in the education and training of prisoners. In addition to the
new partnership arrangements between the Department for Education
and Skills and the Prison Service, the Government has adopted
a new manifesto commitment to improve dramatically the quality
and quantity of prison education. The Prisoners Learning and Skills
Unit will work with all partners to realise this aim in the coming
parliamentary session and we plan to take stock of progress made
under the new partnership arrangements in 2003.
The Government shares the Committee's view that ICT
skills should be accorded the highest priority. That is why we
are implementing a strategy to create and support a dynamic framework
for ICT skills and a corresponding framework for teachers. Essential
elements of this approach include the development of an accessible
infrastructure, which makes ICT universally available to learners,
and the integration of ICT into all our learning processes.
The National Grid for Learning (NGfL), for example,
has already made significant progress in integrating new technologies
into the education system and between 1998 and 2002, £657
million is being made available to Local Education Authorities
(LEAs) to develop their ICT infrastructure, links to the Internet
and access to educationally valuable material. The aim is for
all schools, colleges and public libraries to be connected both
to the grid and the Internet by 2002. By then all serving teachers
should have received training to ensure that they are competent
to teach using ICT in the curriculum.
The revised National Curriculum, introduced in September
2000, recognises the key role that ICT has in the development
of pupils' skills and provides a range of examples that will help
teachers to use ICT effectively and creatively in all subjects.
It is now compulsory for pupils to be taught ICT from age 5 to
16, either as a separate subject or through other subjects.
We already have 188 Beacon schools with use of ICT
recorded as an area of strength and committed to sharing their
good practice with other schools. By making the use of ICT one
of the priority activity areas for new Beacons, we will ensure
that the number of schools working in this area increases to the
benefit of all those schools that need assistance and support
in the subject.
As part of the Key Stage 3 strategy to raise standards
for 11-14 year olds, we are piloting a new programme to strengthen
the teaching of ICT as a subject in its own right. Forty schools
in five LEAs are involved in the pilot. The five LEAs are appointing
leading ICT teachers who will be based in schools and whose role
will include providing demonstration lessons to others. In addition,
new teaching materials are being piloted during the summer term.
There is also a need to expand our specialist and
other high tech learning programmes to secure greater competitive
advantage for the UK through increasing the supply of skilled
people. The recent White Paper: Opportunity for All sets out for
the first time a truly joined up strategy for skills.
The Government is pursuing a wide range of initiatives
including community-based programmes to help people get on-line,
schemes to ensure that ICT is properly taught in schools, colleges
and universities, programmes to bring unemployed people into ICT
employment and to improve links between ICT industry and education.
We welcome the Committee's interest in this important area.
Specialist schools are playing an increasingly important
role in the Government's policies to raise standards and increase
diversity in secondary education. We would welcome an inquiry
that looked at the contribution that the specialist schools programme
has made to improved educational attainment.
The National Curriculum had an aspiration that schools
should provide 2 hours of sport per week, either within or outside
the curriculum, and this recognition of the value of sport was
confirmed by the Prime Minister when he announced in January 2001
that all children will receive an entitlement to high quality
physical activity and sport both inside and outside school. We
would welcome an inquiry that looks at how well schools are progressing
in meeting the 2-hour aspiration and delivering a quality physical
The Complaints Adjudicator
In February 2001, the Government announced that the
appointment of OFSTED's external complaints adjudicator would
in future be made by the Secretary of State, in line with a recommendation
by the Committee. We have subsequently agreed that the new adjudicator
will fulfil the same role in respect of the Adult Learning Inspectorate.
A recruitment exercise will commence shortly, aimed at appointing
a new adjudicator from January 2002, on a three-year contract.
We believe that the new arrangements will further underline and
enhance the independence of the adjudicator.
Parliamentary debate on HMCI's Annual Report
The evidence produced by HM Chief Inspector in his
annual reports provides an important stimulus to discussion on
standards and quality in education. This was demonstrated during
the debate about the work of OFSTED in Westminster Hall on 15
February, where the annual report for 1999-2000 informed the discussion.
We always value opportunities to debate questions relating to
the standards and quality agenda.
The appointment of HM Chief Inspector
We intend to make an announcement on this matter
before the summer recess. The Government has no plans to propose
Parliamentary involvement in the appointment of HM Chief Inspector
of Schools. Recruitment for the post will be run in accordance
with the guidelines of the Office of the Commissioner for Public
Appointments following advertisements in the national press.
Role of the Committee
The Government acknowledges the structured way in
which the Education and Employment Committee established arrangements
for holding HM Chief Inspector to account. We hope that the new
Education & Skills Committee will take this valuable work
16 July 2001