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Reading the riot act

A trio of teachers has written a call to arms for English teachers, urging them to restore creativity to the curriculum and fight attempts to stifle their subject.

The polemical pamphlet by Sue Palmer, Geoff Barton and Peter Barry has been written to mark the 100th anniversary of the English Association.

The teachers said action was urgently needed after an inspection report south of the border showed that English pupils were less interested in reading for pleasure than children in other countries.

They stressed that the pamphlet was "not just another whinge-fest, bleating about how awful the world has become", but a detached look at the state of primary, secondary and higher education.

An obsession with testing has been a characteristic of English at the start of the 21st century, the authors state. "It has led to a narrowing of the curriculum and an apparent loss of confidence by teachers in how to teach the subject in a way that ignites the enthusiasm of youngsters."

They said Britain could not afford to lose critical reading skills, and pupils' passion for literature, in an age of internet knowledge and global competition for jobs.

* Details of 100 Years of English Teaching: the problems that can't be ignored, pound;3.50, are at www.le.ac.ukengassoc

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