Key education reforms scrapped

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The government's centralised national strategy for literacy and numeracy is to be dropped in favour of a new approach giving local authorities accountability. The changes will include ending the multi-million pound contract with private company Capita to deliver the strategies.

The national strategies were introduced as a key education reform when Labour came to power and included centralised directives on how reading and writing should be taught. Primary schools in England have been expected to teach English and Maths according to these centralised guidelines for more than 10 years.

The guidelines give detailed plans for teachers on what to convey to pupils throughout the school year, with an expectation that there should be daily lessons in reading, writing and arithmetic.

From 2011 schools will no longer have to rely on centralised national strategies for support in teaching literacy and numeracy. Instead they will have to choose from other suppliers, or work together to improve pupils' basic skills.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said this would set out a new approach to local authority and school accountability and support, making the support that schools could access even more tailored to their individual needs and circumstances.

"We must continue to do the very best to ensure that all children get the reading and writing skills they need to succeed in later life.

"This is not about getting rid of rid of the literacy and numeracy hours but a renewed push to raise standards and provide new forms of support and challenge for schools who need it."

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said: "The strategies haven't been raising standards. They have deprived teachers of the proper decisions they should be making about how they should teach and what they should teach."

Christine Blower, leader of the National Union of Teachers, said she welcomed the dropping of the top down imposed strategies. "Ed Balls' recognition that teachers' professional judgement can be trusted to deliver the curriculum is long overdue," she said.

"The government needs now to accept and promote the same ethos for assessment."

The government will save £100 million a year in consultancy fees when the contract with Capita is abolished in 2011.

Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, said: “I will make sure that the money is ring-fenced so that schools will continue to spend the money on English and maths learning.

“We are giving more flexibility and judgment to headteachers and teachers to decide what will work best for their school and their children. It is putting more trust in professionalism of our school leaders.”