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Call to broaden literacy hour

THE LITERACY hour has discouraged children from reading whole books and is teaching skills without showing how to apply them, say primary teachers.

The National Association for the Teaching of English has launched a national survey into the effects of the literacy hour after receiving dozens of complaints from teachers.

NATE has reported a massive rise in its primary membership since the literacy hour was introduced last September.

And this week's NATE conference in Newcastle upon Tyne was told that primary English must be much broader than the literacy hour.

Martin Tibbetts, NATE's newly-elected chair, said: "Overall there is no doubt that the literacy hour has been a good thing. But there have been concerns that it has had a negative effect in terms of children reading whole books.

"It is providing children with tools but with no chance for them to learn how to choose the best tool for the job."

NATE's national survey also calls for primary teachers to document experiences of OFSTED inspections since the literacy hour was introduced.

Mr Tibbetts said: "The literacy hour is non-statutory and ministers have told NATE it should be used with flexibility. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests that inspectors are expecting to see the literacy hour exactly as set out in the training materials.

"If this is true then it could be a real problem."

Primary teachers have complained that the strategy downplays the importance of speaking and listening and gives no time for extended reading and writing.

Every primary school is to be asked to complete a questionnaire either on the Internet or by fax.

Copies of the questionnaire can be obtained by faxing the NATE office on 0114 2555296. An Internet version can be completed at

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