Joy of lessons without red tape;Letter

27th August 1999 at 01:00
I HAVE just emerged, tired yet uplifted, from organising one of the eight summer literacy schools in Liverpool. In 20 years of teaching, I have never been involved in a project that was so powerful, positive and overwhelmingly beneficial to the students involved.

We knew from the outset that our target pupils were drawn from children who were borderline levels 3 and 4 in their national tests. This is, of course, the group of pupils whose success in reaching level 4 is crucial if the Government is to attain its own target.

However, even the die-hard cynics among us could not fail to be touched, inspired and amazed at the children's obvious progress. One girl had read and written a critique of about 17 books by the end of the fortnight and others were writing poetry like it was second nature.

The response of parents was overwhelmingly supportive, and many were grateful that the activities gave the pupils the opportunity to visit places that would have been inaccessible on their often-meagre financial resources.

I was fortunate in recruiting a team of excellent and experienced teachers from our own school and one of our feeder primary schools. I gave them groups of five or six pupils and they were paid appropriately for their time.

And then, most importantly, I set them one clearly focused task: teach, and in so doing, raise standards.

There were no forms to complete, no set lists to prepare and no dinner money to collect. The most frequent remark from the teachers was, "If only teaching could be more like this!"

We need more summer schools. They work, they make a difference.

The pity is, those pupils will be in classes of more than 30 from September and their teachers will often be distracted from the job they do best by the administrative duties, unrealistic deadlines and extraneous responsibilities that have become the day-to-day experience of many practitioners.

Joan Davis, Summer school organiser, Holly Lodge girls' school, Liverpool.

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