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Strategy alters teaching style

Teachers are changing how they teach rather than what they teach, in response to the introduction of the National Literacy Strategy.

And some schools are responding to the literacy hour - introduced across England last September - by reducing the curriculum time for other subjects, and introducing setting by ability.

Two Durham University academics say their survey of 77 teachers from nine north-eastern education authorities, shows the hour is having more impact upon literacy teaching methods than content.

Keeping to the structure of the literacy hour was a major concern. Critics felt this led to a more fragmented teaching style with less attention devoted to lower- ability children.

On the positive side, more independent learning, more pace and more focused lessons were reported. Forty per cent of teachers said they spent more time on whole-class teaching.

Just under a third of teachers reported that their literacy teaching was now more focused, their approach more structured and objectives more clearly identified.

Asked about whole-school changes, 63 per cent of teachers said the timetable had been changed in some way to accommodate the literacy hour. Ten per cent said their school had introduced ability setting across the year group, and the same proportion said the curriculum time available for other subjects had been cut. The appointment of additional staff was mentioned by 14 per cent of respondents, with half of these new posts created to support special educational needs pupils.

The survey - carried out last term - is the first in a series on the implementation of the literacy strategy planned by Sue Beverton and Eve English, researchers in primary language in Durham University's school of education.

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