HEADTEACHERS attending summer courses on the national literacy strategy have complained that the training was insubstantial, patronising and poor quality.
The National Association of Head Teachers has been receiving calls from primary heads following the national teacher-training programme for the strategy - which starts this month.
David Hart, the association's general secretary, said: "We have had a significant number of complaints from heads who believe the training has told them absolutely nothing new and that they have had their time wasted by patronising and indifferent trainers who, in many cases, knew much less than the heads did about teaching literacy."
The strategy underpins the Government's attempt to meet its literacy target - that by 2002, 80 per cent of all 11-year-olds will reach level 4 in the national curriculum, the standard in reading and writing expected for their age.
Throughout the summer all primary heads, at least one senior teacher from every primary school and a school governor will have attended a two-day training course run by their education authorities. Before the autumn term they will be expected to have spent at least one day training their own staff.
One head told the union he felt "angry" after his training. Another said he was "horrified by the idea that teachers must begin teaching the strategy after just a few days' training." Despite the strategy not being compulsory for high-performing schools, one such head claims her local authority "ordered" her to attend "two needless and pointless days", despite her having made clear she had no intention of implementing the strategy.
Mr Hart said: "The majority of heads are behind the drive to improve standards, but the heads and senior staff who have attended this crash training programme are extremely experienced and have a healthy scepticism."
Kevin Jeffery, deputy director of the national literacy strategy, accepted that some schools felt more confident than others: "Implementing the strategy should be a management priority and the heads' role in enthusing and supporting teachers is pivotal," he said.
A Department for Education and Employment spokeswoman said she would be "surprised" by any complaints. "The feedback we've been getting is that the training is good," she said.
* Michael Barber, page 17