Apparently, Welsh pupils are going to be the latest beneficiaries of the ‘excellent teaching of literacy’ that Mr Andrews is going to bring in. There’s that word we hear so often from politicians: ‘excellent’, a word as utterly devalued of its currency as a Greek Euro will soon be.
According to a report on the BBC news site, Mr Andrews is telling us that "nothing is more important than ensuring all of our young people have the skills they need to read, write and communicate”.
Lest we forget, Andrews, the Labour minister of education for Wales, was telling us the same thing back in February 2011 – and this was after ten years of Labour being in control of education and allowing the crisis in literacy in Welsh schools to develop!
Having binned the old league tables and replaced standardised tests with teacher assessment, Andrews quickly found that as many as forty percent of pupils were arriving at secondary school unable to read well enough to cope with the curriculum. Now Leighton is so late to the task, he’s met himself coming back – he’s done a U-turn and is bleating now about how the new ‘National Literacy Programme’ is going to bring back accountability and challenge to schools and, er, teach pupils to read.
Well, I’d love to see how he’s going to train all these teachers to teach children to read. Ed Balls didn’t manage it. In fact the last Labour administration in England spent ten years and wasted £2billion implementing a National Literacy Strategy that didn’t work. They appointed literacy consultants in every authority to ‘advise’ schools on how to teach reading – except they didn’t have the expertise to do it.
Perhaps you’re wondering what it was that got me going on our friend Leighton this time? Well, if you are, it was that statement, and it must have come from him or someone close to him, which said that ‘the ambition is for Wales to be among the top 20 nations in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) by 2015’.
Three years then? Do they really think that they can turn it round in three years? High quality literacy teaching needs to begin in YR and go all the way through primary school at the very least before they will see a substantial difference, which does really show you how little they know about the job in hand. And that’s before they can roll out a programme of training for teachers!
For the sake of those poor Welsh kids out there, I’d love to be wrong. But I doubt it.
Thanks to Susan Godsland on the RRF for bringing the news article to my attention.