Come into my parlour for a literacy hour;Letter

1st May 1998 at 01:00
I was utterly unconvinced by chief inspector Chris Woodhead's chilling assertion (TES, April 24) that the compulsory (it's supposed to be "voluntary") prescription of the literacy hour, was "the only sensible way forward".

He accuses me of being "mischievous" for attacking the prescriptiveness of the proposals. I was, in his annual lecture, "at the heart of darkness". From midnight demon to naughty imp inside a month. There's progress.

The article was riddled with inconsistencies. He states: "It is ridiculous for 25,000 schools to seek their individual solutions to common problems", so heis indeed advocating a singlesolution.

Moreover, he says it is "dangerous" for teachers to work out their own best professional practice. Dangerous? It is the hallmark of a profession.

I could barely staunch tears at Chris's proclaimed motivation: to give teachers more time with their families and hobbies. Woodhead - the teachers' pal? Anyone would think his contract was up for renewal.

In any case, if teachers really were drowning, as he claims, would you throw them all a straitjacket, even if it did have interchangeable buckles?

"What's that?", asked the fly, pointing to the spider's web. "It's a trampoline," the spider smiled.

Professor Ted Wragg, Education department, Exeter University

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