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Weak link;Leading Article;Opinion

THE CHIEF inspector's lavish claims this week about the efficacy of the national literacy strategy he inspired, which he now modestly refers to as the most significant initiative in education for 30 years, are not entirely reflected in the OFSTED evaluation which occasioned these remarks. The report observes that it is "too early to be confident about the impact of the [Literacy] Strategy on standards".

Anything that improves teaching of such fundamental skills is, of course, welcome. And there now appears to be inspection evidence that the literacy strategy is achieving this - provided of course that better teaching is not being defined in a circular manner as that which is in line with the strategy.

The literacy strategy has undoubtedly helped to focus efforts on improving teaching and learning. The latest OFSTED evaluation further assists that. But it is dangerous to assume it provides the whole or only answer. Mr Woodhead's personal enthusiams may be justified, but so far there is nothing to prove that it is the strategy which has improved test results. Nor any explanation of why the literacy strategy is apparently less successful with boys, whose underperformance poses the greatest risk to the achievement of David Blunkett's famous targets.

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