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Advisers shelve 'liberal' guide

Government education advisers are sitting on an alternative guide to English teaching which stresses the supposedly "liberal" skills of speaking and listening.

Underground copies of Planning and Progression in English at Key Stages 1 and 2 have been circulating among teachers ever since the Conservative government decided to shelve it because it clashed with its traditional literacy policy.

The document, a primary teacher's planning aid which has been successfully piloted in 12 education authorities, looks no nearer to being published under Labour.

"There are no plans to publish at the moment," a well-informed source said this week. "But it is out - a number of people are circulating it to friends and relations."

The 75-page document was dropped by the Tories when they were devising the National Literacy Project, an initiative to boost reading and writing skills in primary schools, which centred around a highly-structured "literacy hour" each day.

It was written a year ago for the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority by a team of officers which included Dr Alastair West, a former chair of the National Association for the Teaching of English.

In many ways the SCAA document supports the National Literacy Project, and its authors liaised with John Stannard, director of the national literacy centres. But it differs from the national literacy framework in one key aspect - it includes speaking and listening.

The speaking and listening element is considered crucial by many primary teachers, but is frowned upon by some traditionalists who want greater concentration on reading and writing.

Marie Stacey, general inspector for English and drama in the Wirral, said: "Speaking and listening are the prime language skills. If you can't talk and communicate verbally, you can't function in society at all as a human being at any level, as a parent, lover or worker. It's impossible. The fact that the National Literacy Project has published a framework without speaking and listening is appalling."

Ms Stacey, past chair of the National Association of Advisers in English, uses the document for in-service teacher training throughout the Wirral.

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