Letter: Schools old and new

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Of course Chris Woodhead believes he is right to lambaste the woolly liberals who claim that the Government's focus on basic skills is stifling our children's imaginations ("Why testing is no enemy of children's creativity", 20 July). After all, he has the support of a venerable English tradition, as expressed by Mr Gradgrind in Hard Times, a novel by one of the National Curriculum's favourite authors, Charles Dickens:

"Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else."

Indeed, we could not understand why our daughter, aged 10, recently threatened to stage a mass walk-out of the National Literacy Hour because, she declared, of "worksheets that are mind-numbingly tedious". Nor could we see why it should matter in the least if the excellent music specialist cancelled the after-school ensemble until further notice, because she needed the time to prepare the next day's Literacy Hour materials.

After all, this already thriving primary school has just announced that its scores in the recent Sats have risen from well above the national average to even further above the national average.

We only hope that the Chief Inspector comes to his senses before irreparable damage has been done to the once vibrant and, dare I say it, creative environments of the country's best state schools.

CLARE WIKELEY

Romsey, Hampshire

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