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Key stage three: the wasted years?

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector urges secondary school leaders to make key stage three a higher priority after an investigation he commissioned found the quality of teaching and the rate of pupils’ progress weren’t good enough.

The survey by Ofsted, which includes responses from school leaders, inspectors and pupils from years seven to nine, found teaching at key stage three ‘failed to challenge and engage pupils’. In around half of the modern foreign language classes observed by inspectors, the level of achievement wasn’t satisfactory. This low level of attainment was also reported in history and geography lessons. Because pupils either didn’t enjoy or found them difficult, take-up of these subjects at key stage four was low, says Ofsted.

The report suggests key stage three isn’t a priority for many secondary school leaders, with 85 per cent of those surveyed saying they recruit for key stage four and five staff before key stage three. As a result, key stage three classes are often taught by more than one teacher or non-specialists.

“Key stage three must become a higher priority for secondary school leaders. They mustn’t allow key stage three to become a lost opportunity. Instead, they need to ensure high-quality teaching and assessment enables pupils to make the best possible progress,” concludes the report. 

Commenting on the findings, NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby said: “The situation is partly of their own making, and we’re therefore glad they’re changing their focus in the new framework to better reward this sort of development.”

For a more detailed account, read the full report.
First published 08 February 2018