Strategies based on real research

3rd October 2003 at 01:00
I was surprised to read Professor Robin Alexander's criticisms of Excellence and Enjoyment: a strategy for primary schools (TES, September 19).

The most serious claim was that the Government has ignored evidence from researchers and professionals in the development of its strategy. That is completely unfounded.

The national literacy and numeracy strategies were based firmly on research evidence, which was one of the main reasons why, despite Professor Alexander's claims to the contrary, they have been successful in raising standards and improving the quality of teaching and learning.

Based on the latest evaluation and research evidence, Excellence and Enjoyment aims to build on that success by deepening the improvements in teaching and learning that we have seen in recent years. An example is in speaking and listening, the importance of which is recognised in the paper and will be reinforced by new support available to schools later this term - all of this drawing on research evidence, such as Professor Alexander's own.

There is certainly no contradiction between this and the strategy's emphasis on ensuring that teaching and learning is focused on the needs of the individual child, which surely lies at the heart of all effective primary practice.

Excellence and Enjoyment aims to build on the great success of our primary schools, which are widely recognised as among the best in the world. It does that by recognising the powerful relationship between high standards and enjoyable learning, and by valuing teachers' professional autonomy.

This approach has been enthusiastically endorsed by most of the thousands of heads who have participated in our recent round of primary conferences.

Professor David Hopkins Head of Standards and Effectiveness Unit Sanctuary Buildings Great Smith Street Westminster London SW1

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