Time for a change, all right

28th May 2004 at 01:00
Yet again the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority flies in the face of current educational debate, forgets to communicate with the Department for Education and Skills and admirably fails yet another cohort of over-tested children.

Time for a Change? ("Write down what you will say about a revised school timetable in assembly") was an exercise in tedium. Children were denied the chance of demonstrating creative, imaginative, original, poetic, descriptive and figurative written language, a skill that many have been developing through the study of whole-class novels, drama, and active learning techniques. If this wasn't bad enough, being judged on the composition and grammatical correctness of a piece of writing whose sole purpose is to be spoken, is truly absurd.

The development of effective speaking skills (the latest initiative being implemented in schools), requires recognition of the many elements that are involved in oracy - tone of voice, style of delivery, pace, nuance, body language, eye contact with the audience. None of these can be communicated in written form.

Furthermore, our teaching of persuasive spoken language, promotes the idea of presentational notes and bullet points, not "a script" to be read.

Writing designed to be spoken takes a different form from writing designed to be read - we know that, the children are learning that, but clearly this basic point has been lost on the QCA.

Time for a Change? I couldn't have put it better myself.

Sonia Case Literacy subject leader Darrick Wood junior school Orpington, Kent.

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