Spell bind

25th August 2000 at 01:00
MINISTERS are rightly obsessed with literacy. Young people who leave school without a proper grasp of the English language are at a disadvantage for the rest of their lives. Even those children who would rather be Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, star of television's Changing Rooms, than a captain of industry (page 8), won't achieve their ambition if they can't read and write.

But plans to use physical education, art and home economics lessons to improve spelling should be approached with some caution (page 3). Pupils could easily get turned off subjects by too much emphasis on spelling lists and PE r art teachers do not necessarily have the expertise to teach spelling effectively. The idea of children memorising the spelling of quadriceps as they struggle during cross-country surely appeals only to the sadistic.

Pupils are not the only ones with literacy problems, it seems. Welsh chief inspector Susan Lewis came under fire after describing herself in a letter written in Welsh as "Her Majesty Chief Inspection" (page 3). Three years after taking the job, Ms Lewis can still not speak the native language. Perhaps a few hours of new-style cross-country lessons would do the trick.

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