Right of Reply: Doug McAvoy

The NUT's General Secretary responds to our defence of the National Literacy Project
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THE NATIONAL Literacy Project is a success story. Its development had all the characteristics that promote school improvement: the enthusiasm of teachers who knew they were in on something big; a decent time-scale for implementation (two years); quality professional development; and partnership between those responsible for the project and those at the chalk face.

With such preconditions for excellence, it is hardly surprising that children in the project leapt ahead by eight to twelve months, though it is cause for celebration.

So why is the Government's successor literacy strategy problematic?

At the core is a fact that the Government still has difficulty in recognising. Critical to its future is an entitlement within which teachers' professional views are central.

Instead, the Government attempted its version of the Great Leap Forward with a six-month time-scale, and with a string of veiled threats about the dire consequences for schools if they did not operate the strategy.

Remarkably, the Government's attempt to pretend that the Literacy Strategy was a requirement on schools was rejected by the Chief Inspector himself, who told the NUT that it was not Ofsted's job "to comment upon the extent to which the school has taken on the literacy and numeracy strategies".

For teachers to back the literacy initiative enthusiastically, they have to feel that their enthusiasm and commitment are recognised. Enthusiasm and commitment cannot be imposed. They have to come from teachers themselves, a lesson which the Government must learn for its latest big project, the Green Paper on the future of the teaching profession.