Literacy man promises long-term investment

5th January 2001 at 00:00
Stephen Anwyll has a hard act to follow as he takes over as national director of the literacy strategy. Only the brave would want to step into John Stannard's shoes at this point.

Mr Stannard who retires this month has been the driving force behind the leap in literacy standards in primary schools.

In taking on the new post Mr Anwyll, the current deputy, faces the difficult task of improving writing, particularly among boys who have made less impressive progress than girls.

Mr Anwyll, aged 45, is serious about the work that remains and grateful for the legacy he inherits. He has contributed to the gains made already and has been involved in getting the strategy across to schools since 1996.

"There is a strong platform to build on. Much has been done to implement the strategy in the large majority of schools," he said. "To achieve the existing targets, we need to focus on improving the teaching of writing."

Mr Anwyll will be responsible for the strategy in primary schools. Sue Hackman is to direct the initiative to raise standards in secondary schools.

Originally from Darlington, Mr Anwyll studied English at Christ's College, ambridge, and then taught in primary schools for eight years. He spent much of his career in Sheffield, joining the advisory service in the city in 1987 to manage a pilot project in Sheffield schools.

Two years later, he joined the national team as regional director for Yorkshire, the Humber and the East Midlands. It was his job to work with education authorities and their 75 literacy consultants.

The Government has promised pound;100 million a year for the strategy until at least 2004. "There's no quick fix in raising standards. It requires sustained long-term investment," Mr Anwyll said.

He does not accept the view o some critics that the strategy initially failed to place enough emphasis on writing.

"In the early stages, teachers were more comfortable with the teaching of reading. More work has to be done to give teachers the confidence to develop writing," he says. "I think more effective teaching will help boys and girls. The balance between fiction and non-fiction needs to be right and there needs to be clearer targets."

Mr Anwyll is there for the long haul and is confident there are substantial gains still to be made.

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