Education: `Boring' say the children, as teachers await new upheaval

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"It is going to be boring," said Mark Joyce, aged 10, after contemplating the idea of an extra hour reading and writing, and another studying arithmetic.

Mark and his friends at Grimes Dyke Primary School, Leeds, already spend two hours of their five-and-a-quarter-hour school day studying literacy and numeracy. Another two hours would mean the bulk of their day spent on the three Rs.

Teachers at the school said that the announcement of the change yesterday by David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education, did not come as a surprise. "We were expecting it sooner or later" said Pete Ivatts, year four drama co-ordinator.

"It's clear the Government wants to improve performance according to league tables, and this is the way they think they can achieve it. We don't know yet how it will work."

What the teachers say they do know for certain is that it will mean more upheaval and change. They expect to work many more hours to replan and balance the school day. "Most of this extra work will be done in our own time," added Mr Ivatts.

History co-ordinator Amanda Mahaffey said she didn't believe the extra hours of reading, writing and arithmetic would mean other subjects would have to go, but it "would probably mean less time for them".

Margaret Isherwood, the head teacher, said the school's priority was reading and writing which she believed was the case inmost other schools. "We ... can't pour literacy and numeracy over our children. Some will never take to it and so they must have other subjects in which they can shine."

- Esther Leach