I have been following the debate over the National Literacy Project with interest, as I teach in one of the Sheffield schools which has been piloting it. When I joined this multi-ethnic inner-city school last September I was faced with the challenge of introducing the literacy hour to a Year 5 class of 36. (The project assumes a class size of 30). I fully understand all the doubts that have been expressed over recent weeks, because I had every one of them.
It took half a term to set up the project, and I spent many Saturday evenings preparing the following week's literacy hours; but now, two terms later, it has all been worthwhile. The children are well-motivated, independent learners. The quality of work produced, even by children learning English as a second language, takes my breath away.
The National Literacy Project is not bad news. It is not a strait-jacket. There is lots of room for flexibility and professional judgment. I am sad to read so much negative criticism of it by those who have not tried it. I hope the bad press the project has been receiving does not demotivate or lower morale. It is a challenge, but one to which it is worth rising.
Helen Webb 17 Ashland Road, Sheffield