So is the strategy compulsory?

3rd July 1998 at 01:00
Whether schools are obliged to teach the National Literacy Strategy is matter of debate. And whether school inspections will check its implementation is also a source of worry to teachers. The official strategy document says:

"Although the NLS is not a statutory framework, there is clear expectation that schools will adopt it. If a school chooses not to do so, there should be close consultation with the LEA on the principle that the onus is upon the schools to opt out, not to opt in."

David Hart of the National Association of Head Teachers wrote to John Stannard, the director of the National Literacy Strategy arguing:

"If the NLS is not a statutory framework, then it is voluntary. The onus should not be on schools to have to opt out. They should be permitted to make a judgement as to whether they wish to adopt the strategy or not. Heads who take the view that they are running perfectly successful schools and delivering appropriate standards in terms of literacy should be free to decide whether to adopt the strategy in whole or part."

John Stannard wrote back:

"The NLS has been built upon the most successful practice in primary schools and is designed to help teachers extend and improve their skills. It is backed by substantial resources to provide an entitlement to professional development for primary teachers. Against this background, it is fair to expect all schools to give the strategy the most serious consideration, to undertake the training and decline to be involved only if they have a teaching programme which is demonstrably as effective or better. To reject it for something less effective would be unreasonable."

Mr Hart also wrote to Chris Woodhead to ask to what extent OFSTED would be commenting on schools that have decided not to implement the strategy in whole or part. Mr Woodhead replied: "Dear David,

OFSTED will be monitoring the implementation of the literacy strategy. We shall be looking at the quality of the training and the impact in the classroom. You, however, are, I imagine raising the question of Section 10 inspections. My article of 24 April in the TES make the voluntary nature of the project quite clear. OFSTED will, indeed, judge each school's achievements on its merits. You need have no worries on this score."

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