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Task Force aims misunderstood

I was dismayed at your headline "Anger at Labour rethink" (TES, February 28). The angry person in question, Professor Goldstein, who specialises in educational statistics, has either not read or not understood the report that he appears to be angry about.

I am a member of the Literacy Task Force that drafted the Labour consultation document. It sets out proposals about how we can best go about improving reading for British children. I am also a partner in one of the world's leading professional service advisory companies, in which role I am very familiar with the use of statistics.

It is true that Labour's literacy report does quote new statistics and past research. But its aim is not just to describe the way things are, it is to improve performance and to realise a visionary aim. That aim is that, by the year 2006, all 11-year-old children, whatever their background, will be able to read fluently. We want to work with teachers to create the systems, back-up and support which will make this aim realisable.

Professor Goldstein argues that "when you analyse the data, most schools can't be separated". If this were true, there would be no lessons for one school to teach another.

The outstanding literacy results that are being achieved under the guidance of Johns Hopkins University in the United States would be statistical freaks. There would be no guidance to give to teachers about ways in which they might be helped to do their job better. This surely is nonsense.

As a task force, our work is aimed at helping teachers, parents, and society generally to find better ways of allowing all our children to achieve their full potential. I hope that Professor Goldstein will join with us in trying to realise that goal, as so many teachers and headteachers have already done.

DAVID PITT-WATSON Partner Deloitte Touche Consulting Group Braxton Associates Stonecutter Court 1 Stonecutter Street London EC4

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