Literacy is stalling says chief - but our schools aren’t

A GOOD READ Schoolchildren enjoy looking through the library books
A GOOD READ Schoolchildren enjoy looking through the library books
Snow in Southsea Common. Picture: Lynne Collinson

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SCHOOLS that have signed up to The News’ literacy campaign are challenging Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw’s claims this week that literacy progress has stalled.

More than 55 primaries and secondaries who are sharing their excellent initiatives through our Read All About It campaign are proof that literacy is a priority in Portsmouth and Hampshire.

Sir Michael says there has been no overall improvement nationally in primary pupils’ learning since 2008 – with one in five children not achieving the expected level 4 in English by the end of primary school.

And he has called for a ‘no-excuses culture’ to make improvements.

But our schools are already one step ahead.

Portsdown Primary is expecting every 11-year-old to achieve the expected level 4 in reading this year – and 45 per cent to do even better.

A reading pledge and ‘extreme read’ picture challenges are just two initiatives at the school that have seen English results rocket.

Headteacher Irene Baldry said: ‘This is a blanket term yet again about primaries not doing what they should be – it’s galling.

‘I wish he’d come here and see a good literacy lesson with children reading and writing to exceptionally high standards.

‘Improving literacy standards is key at Portsdown.’

At Red Barn Primary in Portchester, 100 per cent of 11-year-olds achieved the expected levels in reading and writing last year – up from 61 per cent in 2009.

Lessons which alternate between teaching youngsters in ability groups and allowing them to put those skills to the test are planned daily.

Headteacher Rena Randall said: ‘There are pockets of schools including ours that are working incredibly hard to have a real impact on children. You can see from our results that we are continually improving and that literacy is a priority.’

But Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust which is officially backing our campaign, has given Sir Michael the thumbs up.

He said: ‘Addressing the barriers to raising literacy standards must be a top priority for schools.’

To share your literacy initiatives through our campaign email