Wragg's sirenvoice off-key;Letter

24th April 1998 at 01:00
Ted Wragg's article on the literacy hour (TES backpage, April 3) was typically amusing. Amid implicit support for the national literacy strategy and explicit support for teaching phonics, he trivialised the literacy hour because it proposes a consistent structure for teachers.To answer his two points.

First, the work covered through the literacy hour includes shared and guided reading and writing, the explicit and regular teaching of phonics, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and sentence construction, a balance of fiction and non-fiction work, the systematic use of children's reading to structure and inform their writing.

The literacy hour provides a lesson structure which emphasises clear, direct, interactive teaching, allows for the carefully differentiated teaching of groups, promotes independence and engages children in reflection, practice and consolidation.

It also increases the average amount of time pupils spend being taught literacy very substantially. All these elements come with strong credentials, some of which are reflected in research and development studies from Ted's own university.

Second, he doesn't like the timings of the literacy hour, not even the approximate timings, notwithstanding the fact that they provide a practical structure for teaching literacy and are proving successful in the national literacy project.

No one is saying there is only one way of achieving the same ends. If some schools want to do it differently they should be allowed to but they will be expected to provide a comparable structure which can be justified in terms of time, focused teaching, a balance of work, continuity and progression for pupils and, of course, hitting or exceeding the school's agreed literacy targets.

There is value in diversity but not as an excuse for doing nothing. If it's going to be different, it needs to be better.

John Stannard Director National literacy strategy 59-65 London Street Reading

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