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Editor's letter

Are you sitting comfortably? You may not be once you've read our little list of innovations being brought to you in September by this young Government in a hurry (page 17). Education action zones, the Year of Reading, target setting and a leaner, fitter curriculum are all on the fast-moving agenda.

But looming largest of all is the literacy hour. It represents the hugest change in classroom culture since the national curriculum. The framework has much to commend it. It is based, as Michael Barber writes on page 19, on documented effective practice, and those who have used it are enthusiastic.

But you don't have to do it. Although most teachers are convinced that it is mandatory - a view encouraged by Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett when he declared it "non-negotiable" at Easter - it is not enshrined in law. And Chief Inspector Chris Woodhead has confirmed its voluntary status, saying inspectors would judge each school's literacy teaching on its merits.

But schools thinking of opting out need to think hard. They are under pressure to feel ultra-confident that their own methods will bring results at least as good - and that's hard to measure.

Diane Hofkins

Editor TES Primary

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