Headlines: December 16th, 1999

OFSTED has provided a major review of the first year of the National Literacy Strategy, which includes the use of the ‘literacy hour’ of teaching for all primary school children.The clearest find is that while the impact on reading has been markedly successful, there has been less improvement in children’s writing.

The OFSTED report says progress on this remains “worryingly low”, particularly among boys.

It calls for better training to help teachers write effectively, and for a review of the balance between the time given in schools to the teaching of reading and writing.

It also criticised a very variable performance from local education authorities in implementing the strategy. Too many failed to set effective targets, while others were slow to give the strategy sufficient priority at the beginning of the year. Weaknesses remain in the way some LEAs are monitoring the strategy and identifying the training needs of teachers.

The OFSTED report highlights the contribution of headteachers and of literacy co-ordinators as key factors in implementation. The impact of the co-ordinators has been satisfactory or better in more than four out of five schools.

The proportion of pupils attaining the national expectation of level 4 or above in the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum test in English rose by six percentage points in 1999 to 70 percent — working towards the Government’s target of 80 per cent by 2002.

‘An Evaluation of the First Year of the National Literacy Strategy’ (HMI 216) is available from the OFSTED Publication Centre, P O Box 6927, London E3 3NZ.