Aiming higher;Secondary;Reviews;English;Books

10th April 1998 at 01:00
LITERACY THROUGH THE SECONDARY CURRICULUM: Raising Achievement. Sylvia Edwards. Framework Press. pound;39.95.

This pack, free for photocopying in schools, has urgent aims both as an educational priority at secondary level and, on a more immediate plane, as a means of satisfying important OFSTED criteria.

Sylvia Edwards is long experienced in raising literacy standards in secondary schools, crucially from an SEN perspective, thus giving her authority over the full ability range.

The pack is cross-curricular, fostering understanding of reading and writing processes among all staff. Whole-school literacy is assumed as part of the school management plan - one wonders, in fact, how a school can succeed if it is not.

However, the activities are offered on the premise that, to be effective, any literacy policy must be created by everybody. Not all staff, though, may share this conviction or accept responsibility for pupils' reading and writing development.

One of the joys of the pack is frequent reference to the nearly forgotten Bullock Report - especially that sometimes sadly still-true statement about English teachers "constantly receiving criticism about the pupils' standards of writing in other subjects". The pack is organised as a selection of INSET activities for a whole staff intent on hammering out a school policy and clearing minds about the nature of the enterprise on the way.

There are two sections: units 1 to 4 explore literacy and pupil needs, while the remaining six constitute the actual forming of a policy. Each unit offers searching, mind-clearing activities - valuable learning experiences in their own right.

An important element, familiar from the National Writing Project, is for staff to define their own experiences as readers and writers. A policy felt on the pulse will always work best.

This is a valuable resource, ideal for school-based INSET and worth revisiting often. I welcome and recommend it.

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