Education: Specialists for primary schools

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Primary schools should dispense with "old-fashioned ideas" about one teacher to one class, says a report from school inspectors.

Good use of subject specialists raises standards but even the best schools are not using teachers' subject expertise properly, according to inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education.

The traditional "one teacher one class" organisation places heavy demands on primary teachers who have to cover a much wider range of subjects than their secondary school colleagues, says the report.

Teachers are increasingly well qualified and often have wide knowledge of one subject from their training. Yet their knowledge is not being used. Very small and very large schools are best at using subject specialists.

The report points out that international surveys suggest that better use of specialists may explain why children in some European and Pacific Rim countries do better than their British counterparts in some subjects.