Ofsted: satisfactory doublethink

2008-09-22

Maybe you’ve read the BBC article “how maths teaching is not good enough”? Perhaps you should read the Oftsted report. Perhaps I should.

41% of the maths teaching (in secondary schools) is satisfactory. The tone of the news article is that this is not good enough.

This is characterised by the section headline in the Ofsted report (section 26): «What is not good enough about ‘satisfactory’ teaching?»

I have news for Ofsted. “satisfactory” means almost the same thing as “good enough”. If you’re not satisfied with “satisfactory” teaching, then you set your assessment criteria incorrectly. How unsatisfactory.

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5 Responses to “Ofsted: satisfactory doublethink”

  1. Francis Davey Says:

    Its a standard failing amongst educators.”satisfactory” means (to an educator) “not good enough”. An abuse of a perfectly respectable language which includes such useful terms as “unsatisfactory” which could equally well have been used. I think the failing begins by noting that the next grade up is “good”, therefore anything below “good” is “not good” and “not good” teaching is surely bad teaching? No?

    I did like this paragraph:

    “7.The pass rate of those taking A-level mathematics has risen to 97%, and more students than ever are gaining high grades. This trend, which has persisted for some time, accelerated with the introduction of new courses in 2004 which reduced the amount of content to be studied.1 The proportion awarded grades A or B reached 65% in 2007, around 20 percentage points higher than in 2001. Most of these students had achieved grades A or A* at GCSE.”

    I am sure you and I could do even better at reforming education to achieve 100% pass rates and almost total take-up of A-levels provided we were allowed to remove too much useless content.

    If by age 15 you haven’t differentiated at least one or two easy functions, then how on earth can you claim to be well educated mathematically? 8-)

  2. drj11 Says:

    Ah, so the key to higher attainment is to teach less stuff. Cunning.

    On a related note when Tony Jenkins was presenting his Python in Higher Education talk at PyCon UK I asked him if the rising levels of grade As at A-level meant it was difficult for them (Leeds U) to tell the good from the bad on intake. “Oh yes”, was the emphatic reply. Just an anecdote of course.

  3. Nick Barnes Says:

    What?!
    When I read your statement that 41% is satisfactory, I assumed that meant that 59% is unsatisfactory.
    How foolish of me.
    Bloody arts graduates, can’t even speak English.
    And get off my lawn!

  4. Gareth Rees Says:

    It’s an inevitable converse of grade inflation: as it becomes easier to get the higher grades, the value of the lower grades diminishes. When the average student can get a “good” grade, then a “satisfactory” grade must be below average.

  5. chilts Says:

    Ah, yes but… Poor teachers won’t have to be inspected any more. Does that mean teachers who have been rated as ‘satisfactory’? Or is that not good enough any more?


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