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Literacy hour ticking along nicely

Biddy Passmore reports from the New Labour heartland of Brighton and Hove, where the council's school effectiveness plan mirrors the Government's.

What better than a shiny new New Labour education authority to try out the Government's shiny new literacy hour? And who better than Ken Follett, bestselling author and husband of Labour MP and style guru Barbara, to launch it?

Brighton and Hove Council, born in April, is eager to be up to speed with all the new initiatives - or, in the words of its press release, "to become a leading edge authority in a number of areas". Its school effectiveness strategy (drawn up, the authority says, before the Government's White Paper on education) includes such fashionable elements as baseline assessment trials.

Two literacy summer schools have already taken place. Its 10 secondary schools are currently being "wired up" to libraries, the council offices and other public buildings.

Last week, Mr Follett launched Brighton and Hove's literacy initiative at Whitehawk junior school, one of the schools taking part in the scheme. His visit was followed the next day by a literacy conference for heads and chairs of governors and for the "expert teachers" chosen to lead the project in the pilot schools.

And that, according to the council, was to be followed "immediately" by the start of the project in the 15 schools taking part: 11 primary, two secondary and two special.

In the coming weeks, there will be five-day courses for the "expert teachers" and preparations for the introduction of the literacy hour and National Literacy Project teaching framework from half-term.

Some of the schools, however, have introduced a literacy hour ahead of the official launch: Whitehawk infants last year and Whitehawk junior last term, for example.

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