THE LITERACY HOUR was not a Labour initiative. It first appeared as the National Literacy Project, introduced by the Conservatives in 1996, and was piloted in 13 authorities from January 1997.
The pilot was intended to run for five years and has not been fully evaluated. OFSTED monitored the project and a report is due out soon.
The National Literacy Strategy draws together the National Literacy Project, with experience from the pilot and a range of international research evidence.
From September 1998 the Government wants all primary schools to implement the literacy hour. Although not legally compulsory, schools which do not adopt the hour will be expected to prove that their methods are at least as effective.
Before the end of this term every primary head and literacy co-ordinator, and a governor from every school, will receive two days' training in managing the literacy strategy. From 1998 to 1999 schools must devote three in-service days to literacy training for their staff, using the recently arrived, highly-detailed training packs.
Michael Barber, head of the Standards and Effectiveness Unit, has said it may take schools until the autumn half term "for every aspect of the literacy hour to be functioning smoothly".
The literacy hour structure comprises: * whole-class work on a shared text (about 15 minutes)
* whole-class focused work on spelling and grammar (15 minutes)
* independent and guided group work (20 minutes)
* a whole-class plenary session reviewing and reflecting on what has been learned (10 mins).