Fears for English as literacy strategy changes

18th May 2001 at 01:00
TEACHERS fear that time for reading and the role of literature will be diminished under plans to overhaul English lessons in secondary schools.

A survey of teachers piloting the Government's new key stage 3 national literacy strategy revealed "considerable concern" that extended time for reading and writing might be a casualty once schools take up the framework.

Two hundred schools have been trialling the initiative, which will go nationwide in September, along with a numeracy strategy.

Guidelines produced by the Standards and Effectiveness Unit recommend English lessons consist of a 10-minute starter, which might concentrate on spelling or word use, followed by more extended study of an author, piece of work or topic. A plenary session at the end of the lesson will draw together what students have learned.

A National Association for Teachers of English survey of about 60 per cent of schools in the pilot found teachers welcomed many elements of the framework, particularly the focus on the language study.

But some teachers thought there were too many learning objectives and could not see how the framework fitted into the statutory natinal curriculum.

They also feared the central role of literature in English teaching could be threatened.

NATE's communications and development director, Trevor Millum, said there had been a mixed response.

"Schools in the pilot have had different experiences. In schools where teachers have not been given enough time or where the quality of training was criticised, they will feel less well disposed towards the strategy.

"We need time for the strategy to settle down - I don't think anyone, including the Government, would deny that it has been pushed through very quickly, and that is not necessarily a good way to work."

Every English and maths department will be asked to carry out an audit of their strengths and weaknesses this summer in preparation for the introduction of the new strategy.

A Department for Education and Employment spokesman said: "The strategy promotes the best use of classroom time to develop both reading skills and the study of literature.

"We do not accept that the study of literature would diminish under the strategy - it embraces all the requirements in the national curriculum for Literature."

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