One pupil when asked by his mother what happened during the literacy hour was told: "You're not allowed to go to the toilet."
Other, brighter children, meanwhile, felt they were being held back. Education Secretary David Blunkett has staked his job on 80 per cent of 11-year-olds achieving the required standard by 2002.
But delegates to the NASUWT's conference complained of insufficient resources, lack of support from local authorities and dramatic increases in workload and stress.
They told tales of teachers queuing for the photocopier, of at least an extra half hour added to each day's work and of Sundays spent preparing for the literacy hour. They condemned the Government's failure to recognise the bureaucratic burden the national strategy placed on primary teachers and called on ministers to review it.
David Jones, from Walsall, said that the extra work required for the National Literacy Strategy nullified the agreement to cut down on paperwork. "At 8.30am teachers are organising resources for literacy and in my school, the hour actually lasts one-and-a-quarter hours," he said.
He expected workload to get even worse with the introduction of the National Numeracy Strategy in September and added: "Elastic bands can only stretch so far and so can the primary teacher's day."
Stuart Merry, a headteacher from Kirklees, said he might as well now scrap his school's development plan. "We have done Investors in People but every strategy and every priority we have set for ourselves has been thrown away because it is down to the treadmill response to a political agenda rather than looking at what is needed."