“Academies, reading, teachers` progress, IT underused and evidence ignored” policy expert on challenges from Ofsted report

 “Academies, reading, teachers` progress, IT underused and evidence ignored”

Professor Robert Cassen, expert in social policy and social exclusion at the LSE, on some policy challenges emerging from Ofsted`s annual report


Addressing the social achievement gap needs many initiatives, including some for school improvement. The mechanisms for doing this are much less clear since the growth in the number of academies. Local authorities played a major part in the success of the London Challenge; their future role needs further consideration.

Reading – improvements essential

1 boy in 6 and 1 girl in 10 still do not get the expected standard in reading by the end of primary school. This will hold them back. The recent measures to intensify phonics teaching are not all supported by the evidence.

Developing teachers` skills – patchy?

The Report properly focuses on teaching, but says little about continuing professional development – a key instrument for improvement. The evidence is CPD is highly variable across the school system, and could be pushed much further.

Using technology – some schools excellent; others well behind

Information Technology has a role that is far from being widely well exploited. The best schools make excellent use of it, but many are far behind.

We can close the gap – if we use the evidence!

In almost every area there is a wide spectrum of performance, with good or excellent outcomes at one end and poor ones at the other. The evidence is mostly there for what can and should be done to improve overall results further and narrow the social gap.

Policy should make better use of the evidence; and where new initiatives are introduced without evidence, they should at least be piloted and monitored before wide adoption.

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