Don't throw out the literacy baby

23rd May 2003 at 01:00
WHILE it is delightful to see the great and the good lining up to support your Target Creativity campaign, it is worrying that they lump the literacy strategy together with tests, targets and league tables as demons threatening good primary practice.

While certain aspects of the strategy were deadly (thank goodness many schools have abandoned the awful 15min: 15:20:10 literacy hour), it nevertheless provides teachers with knowledge about language and a range of excellent teaching strategies. These should contribute to a real rise in standards.

The villains of the piece are the politicians and their cohorts at the Department for Education and Skills. Their tests and targets agenda led to the narrowing of the curriculum; their puritanism took the fun out of primary education, and their idiotic league tables are now used to engender parental paranoia. (Oh, and there was also Chris Woodhead, during whose reign of terror cross-curricular teaching was practically eradicated.) We must indeed break free from the stifling culture all this has created and target creativity. But we must target literacy and numeracy too.

Children need fun, excitement and colour in their lives, but they also need the 3Rs. Please, let's not let the pendulum swing back too far ...

Sue Palmer

11 St George's Road Truro, Cornwall

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