Page last updated at 11:35 GMT, Monday, 5 January 2009

Ofsted crackdown on dull teaching

Boys in class
Pupils behave better when they are engaged, says Christine Gilbert

England's education inspectors are to crack down on boring teaching because of concerns that a lack of stimulation is leading to worsening behaviour.

Ofsted chief Christine Gilbert said her inspectors would give more advice on why pupils may not be paying attention.

Ms Gilbert told the Guardian newspaper teaching was wrongly divorced from behaviour, and disruption emerged when pupils were "bored and not motivated".

But teaching unions said Ms Gilbert's comments were not helpful.

I think students behave much better if the teaching is good
Christine Gilbert
Ofsted chief inspector

Ofsted's most recent annual report, published in November, warned that secondary school pupils were too often set tasks that were not demanding enough and that teaching in primary schools could be "pedestrian".

Ms Gilbert said work that she had previously been involved in suggested there was a strong link between boredom and poor behaviour.

She added: "People divorce teaching from behaviour. I think they are really, really linked and I think students behave much better if the teaching is good, they are engaged in what they are doing and it's appropriate to them.

"Then they've not got lost five minutes into the lessons and therefore started mucking around."

She said behaviour in England's schools was generally very good, but that "low level disruption" occurred when children were not motivated, and that this could snowball.

Ms Gilbert said schools would be given more information on how to improve.

'Packed with excitement'

"We need to be much clearer in our recommendations of what to do in terms of their teaching and learning."

The comments come after Ofsted faced criticism for its so-called "light-touch inspections", which are carried out on a shorter timescale and include fewer lesson observations.

General secretary of the Nasuwt teaching union, Chris Keates, said: "Every chief inspector seems to get infected with a virus that makes them say schools are full of teachers that are not good enough despite the fact that their own evidence shows the standard of teaching is good."

She said that comments like these fuelled the view that every minute of every lesson had to be "packed with excitement".

And John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said he wished Ms Gilbert would present her findings in a more realistic way and that teaching was the best it had ever been.

But he welcomed a strong focus in school inspections on teaching and learning.

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