Schools under pressure from local authorities to introduce the literacy hour have been invited to write to the chief inspector. Where they have good test results in literacy, he will write exemption notes.
Mr Woodhead made the offer to schools at a conference organised by the Association of Grant-maintained and Aided Schools last week. According to heads, local authorities are insisting that the National Literacy Centre decides if schools can opt out of the strategy.
Nigel Powis of St Andrew's GM primary in Weeley, Essex, said 96 per cent of 11-year-olds at his school achieved the target or above. However, the local authority was insisting the school implement the strategy.
In reply, Mr Woodhead said: "If you send me the details of your results, and if they are good enough, I will write you a letter saying you can implement whatever parts of the literacy strategy that you think might be useful. "
John Stannard, director of the National Literacy Strategy, said "It is non-statutory, but schools that decide against its introduction should be able to demonstrate that their approach to literacy is as good," he said.