Professor Michael Barber Acknowledges Labour Fails To Deliver Promise To Improve Children’s Literacy

Posted: Dec 19 2013

It seems that the programme to improve children’s literacy, created by professor Michael Barber, has not been successful. Though a rise in standards was witnessed throughout four years with the national literacy hour, which was introduced in schools, it did not live up to its expectations. After the four successful years, the level of the literacy standard has dropped and has not since increased. What caused the drop in literacy levels?

The National Literacy Hour And Its Impact On Literacy Levels

According to the creator of the programme, there were several reasons which contributed to the stagnation of raising the literacy standards. The first reason, Barber claims, was the lack of focus on literacy. Teachers concentrated on the pressures of the introduction of other national strategies. These included behaviour, ICT and science.

Additionally, some teachers did not follow the literacy hour through and it was not build on pupils’ achievements. It was reported that teachers were relieved when they did not have to do it anymore. This is indeed worrying as the research carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed that literacy standards in the United Kingdom have dropped. 16 to 25 year olds performed worse compared to the grandparents’ generation. According to the professor, another possible reason is that secondary schools did not build on primary school improvements.

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According to Professor Barber, who is the Chief Education Adviser to Pearson, now is the best time to work on raising the literacy standards and inject fresh drive and enthusiasm. Standards can improve, but devoted school teachers are needed.

It also seems that a bold move should be taken in education, with academies which should take in children starting from the age of three up to eighteen. This proposal was shared by Ofsted chief Baroness Sally Morgan.

Professor Barber claims that UK can be proud on providing education for children who are three and four years of age, in addition to UK going from the worst to the best performers between 1995 and 2005. However, it seems more efforts are required in order to make this provision even more effective.

In order to drive standards forward, driven and dedicated teachers are required. Teachers should include a sharper focus on phonics, using the latest technology in the process. Professor Barber mentioned an example of a school in the United States, where educators looked at the progress of their pupils every day before assigning goals to them for the upcoming day.

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