Third of primary lessons below par

Fears for standards are coupled with criticism of the quality of inspections, reports Judith Judd

Standards are still too low in nearly one third of primary school lessons, the Chief Inspector of Schools' annual survey is expected to reveal next week.

The report will almost certainly repeat the charge made in a series of inspectors' reports that the worst classes are those for 8-to-11-year-olds, with teachers failing to demand enough of their pupils. About one fifth of secondary school lessons fails to come up to scratch. More than six years after the Government introduced its education reforms and 18 months since privatised inspection teams began, the proportion of weak lessons remains stubbornly the same.

The survey, from Chris Woodhead, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, comes as his Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), which has an annual budget of £76.9m, faces criticism over the quality of inspection.

The principle of more regular inspection and the more open nature of the process have been widely welcomed. A new framework for inspection tells schools exactly what the inspectors are looking for.

But some question whetherthe new four-yearly inspections are the right way to raise standards, and if the money spent - £20,000 for the average secondary and £10,000 for the average primary inspection - is justified. Critics also cast doubt on the consistency of teams of privatised inspectors who have taken over most school inspections from the respected Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMI).

In three of the 13 secondary schools to "fail" inspections, HMI overturned the judgement of the independent contractor who carried out the first inspection. Ofsted admits there have been teething troubles with a minority of the new teams. Five team leaders, or Registered Inspectors, have resigned after criticism of the way they conducted inspections and 13 per cent of inspection reports have been rejected by HMI because they were badly written.

But a spokesman for Ofsted said that HMI monitoring teams had seen 700 inspections and read 400 reports and found only a small minority unacceptable.

"There is unmistakable evidence that things are getting better and we are only four terms into the new system. I would not deny that there could have been blips but the picture now is one of quite remarkable consistency."

Others are less happy. Dr John Marks, a government adviser and chair of the Centre for Policy Studies' education committee, believes inspectors are too subjective. "They may only be in the classroom for a relatively short space of time before they grade a lesson."

There is a problem finding inspectors for primary schools. Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education, is insisting a primary inspection programme goes ahead although one third of this year's has had to be cancelled. Ofsted is having difficulty persuading local authority teams to do more inspecting. Chris Tipple, Northumberland's Chief Education Officer, says his authority believes it is already spending enough time on inspections and there are better ways to help schools improve.

"Schools are extremely apprehensive. They spend a long time preparing but they do very little in the way of follow-up.

"Many of us would like schools to set their own targets which would be monitored by outsiders. A few schools are bad but hundreds of these reports read almost identically in Dalek-type language."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

Technical Account Manager - Java, FIX Protocol, FIX 5.0, C++

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Account Manager - Java,...

WPF .NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform