Undo the literacy straitjacket

10th July 1998 at 01:00
May I congratulate Ruth Miskin and Mike Kent (TES, June 26) in voicing what many others are undoubtedly feeling as the introduction of the literacy hour looms ever closer. The fact that Ms Miskin was one of the consultants whose ideas were used in the design of the national literacy strategy adds even more weight to the arguments voiced by those who believe that it is inappropriate and counterproductive to try to force all schools - no matter what their methods, achievements, intakes and teaching staff - to adopt one prescriptive teaching strategy.

There is much to commend in the literacy hour directive, but if it is so excellent its merits should speak for themselves and not be forced on those who are already achieving splendid results. Education Secretary David Blunkett claims to want to raise the prestige of the profession, but I can think of no better way of discouraging the sort of independent-minded high achievers that we so desperately need than by continuing with the patronising, strait-jacketed and centralising approach that he seems determined to introduce.

The irony of the literacy strategy is that, it is as likely to drive experienced, creative and articulate teachers from the profession out of sheer frustration as it is to enhance literacy standards.

Judith Beardsworth The Avenue Watford Hertfordshire

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