Nick Wells to Michael Gove: not all innovative literacy strategies come from overseas

April 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm Leave a comment

by Alec Patton

I discovered Nick Wells’ blog, SchoolsofThought, this morning (thanks to @Judyfriedberg for the link).

He’s written a post in which he observes that Michael Gove has been trumpeting American literacy programmes in the Telegraph, while seeming to be anaware that analogous programmes already exist in the UK:

I can’t help but wonder why the Education Secretary doesn’t mention any of the best practice evident in this country in his article. He writes about Drop Everything And Read days (DEAR). Why not highlight World Book Day? He writes about a fifty book challenge. Why not suggest extending the Summer Reading Challenge which is coordinated by The Reading Agency and is run in 95% of UK public libraries? Finally, he describes how he “was struck by the way a culture of reading is instilled in every child at the earliest possible age, even in schools serving the poorest pupils”. Why not draw attention to any one of the range of strategies promoted by the National Literacy Trust which are already up and running in many schools in the UK?

Now I’m of the view (as is Nick Wells) that education systems have a great deal to gain by being more outward-looking, and learning from innovative work (not to mention plain ol’ good practice) around the world.

But it is true for both systems and individuals that knowledge of self is every bit as important as knowledge of the world, and policymakers, and indeed managers at all levels, need to consciously avoid the mentality that Wells identifies as follows: “We’re not doing this correctly anywhere in our organisation, but they are over there. Let’s copy what they’re doing and we’ll all be OK.”

Nick Wells’ conclusion is to issue Gove a challenge to match Gove’s challenge to young people to read fifty books a year: Wells’ challenge is for the Education Secretary to visit fifty schools during the coming year, and to look closely at the innovative, effective, and inspiring work that is taking place in them. If he’s looking for suggestions, he could do a lot worse than starting with the Learning Futures schools!


Entry filed under: Education & Children's Services.

Guest blog from Learning Futures’ Mark Moorhouse: Free-range teaching in Manchester Frikommuner – Lessons on local authority freedom to innovate from Denmark?

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