YOUR article "Weak ones that put the targets in jeopardy", (TES, January 29), won't have done much for the morale in many of the 15 or so local education authorities you included - Sheffield among them.
But, far from "falling further behind", Sheffield is tracking the movement in national key stage 2 literacy averages pretty closely and just beginning to narrow it. Over the period 1996-8 the level 4-plus per cent scores look like this: Sheffield 49-54-57, national: 58-63-65. The points gap over that time is just beginning to narrow: 9-9-8.
We have set ourselves the target of 80 per cent by 2002. That's a tall order, but we're going for it. You and your readers know how tough it is to raise expectations and standards in hard-pressed areas.
Those heads, teachers and support staff who are shouldering that burden - and having an impact - aren't weak. Quite the reverse. There are some heroic efforts going in to reaching these targets, coupled with real dedication and skill. This hardly suggests the targets are "elusive".
I could say Sheffield is regarded as a leading LEA in a number of areas including numeracy, which you featured in an article in the same edition!
Jonathan Crossley-Holland Executive director education Sheffield City Council