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Wales goes its own way

PRIMARY schools in Wales have been told they need not follow the national literacy strategy. New guidelines from the Welsh Inspectorate say the strategy is a matter for "local discretion", advice radically different from that given in England.

John Stannard, director of the national literacy strategy, has said that although it is not compulsory he expected nearly all schools to follow it from September and Education Secretary David Blunkett has said it is "non-negotiable". In Wales, teachers have been told they are free to choose whatever strategies they deem fit. Heads have been told there is no one way to teach literacy successfully.

Every Welsh local authority must draw up a local strategy, based on good practice from the best schools. Individual schools must set and monitor their own targets, and they will not be expected to implement the literacy hour, a key part of the English strategy. Inspectors' reports suggest most Welsh schools already spend more than an hour a day on language skills. Although schools adopting the official hour will be "welcomed", the report says it is "for schools and teachers to determine the most appropriate teaching strategies for improving standards of literacy, including the amount of classroom time to be devoted to this".

Gwen Evans, deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "It is about the Welsh language, not about being rebellious. It makes total sense for Wales to pursue the literacy strategy in ways that suit the abilities of children in both English and Welsh."

Heledd Hayes, NUT education officer for Wales, said: "We would argue that it would be a more sensible way to tackle the issue of literacy in England, too."

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