Letters Extra: Nothing to brag about

It's no surprise that huge improvements in 11-year-olds' literacy `SAT' scores are not reflected in those on standardised reading tests (Literacy tests gains challenged TES 10502). SAT scores are driven by the needs of politicians; reading tests measure how well children can read.

The government wants educational statistics to brag about, so primary teachers have been forced to provide them. In literacy teaching, which involves the development of an extraordinarily complex set of skills, the only way to do this in the short term is to `teach to the test'.

All this nonsense, however, should not undermine the solid educational work that has been going on under the aegis of the National Literacy Strategy. During the last four years, the NLS has provided teachers with subject knowledge that had been denied to them for a generation, and a range of excellent teaching methods. Teachers recognise the worth of these and would love to be allowed to get on and use them. The trouble is, they're so beset with tests, targets and government-generated paperwork that there's no time to teach.

NLS has also provided a framework for teaching which could, over time, lead to the majority of our children achieving good standards of literacy. But as long as the government distracts schools with short-term targets they are prevented from taking full advantage of it. The frustration for teachers is immense.

Sue Palmer

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