LEAs told to inform on rebel heads

Nicholas Pyke

LOCAL education authorities will help police the National Literacy Strategy by informing on uncooperative schools, say government advisers, writes Nicholas Pyke.

John Stannard, director of the strategy, has written to headteachers' leaders telling them to work alongside their council officials. "If the LEA disagrees with the school's judgment, then - bluntly - I would want to know," he says.

His letter provoked immediate denunciation. David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, said: "It gives the unfortunate impression that there's a dictator wanting to know what's going on in every primary school in the country and waiting to pounce if fault is found. It only serves to reinforce the view, which is already prevalent, that we're in danger of creating a nanny state on curriculum issues. The phraseology is most unfortunate."

Mr Stannard's letter to the NAHT concedes that the literacy strategy is not compulsory. But he goes on to say that nearly all schools nevertheless should follow it.

"The literacy strategy has been built upon the most successful practice in primary schools," writes Mr Stannard.

"If a school chooses not to be involved with the strategy it is surely appropriate for this to be discussed with the LEA."

The NAHT has expressed full support for the detail of the strategy, which appears to command respect among primary teachers.

However, the union remains concerned that ministers are trying to dictate teaching methods, even though the strategy has no place in law.

Heads are also worried at the role to be played by LEAs which, they fear, will limit their professional independence.

"It's not appropriate to expect LEAs to police the strategy in this way," Mr Hart said. "I don't think they're up to it. They don't have the information to enable them to do the job."

Teachers' autumn survival guide,Primary magazine, page 17

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Nicholas Pyke

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