Tuesday 24 April 2012

Meeting at the DfE - Not the Minutes

Apologies for being enigmatic but as the participants in today's meeting with Nick Gibb felt that they would prefer it if today's meeting remained confidential, I have to respect that.

It's public knowledge (the DfE tweeted it) that the participants today were Nick Gibb, Quentin Blake, Anne Fine and myself.

I think it's OK for me to repeat what I said yesterday that I agree with and support the recommendation of Ofsted's report: 'Moving English Forward' - namely:

"All schools should:
develop policies to promote reading for enjoyment throughout the school"

In an ideal world, it's my view that this wouldn't involve Ofsted with all its attendant problems of coercion, unaccountability and authoritarian ways of going on. In an ideal world, the ministry itself could call for schools to develop such polices without there being coercion attached. In an ideal world, such policies can only be implemented (my personal view) in an environment not dominated by SATs.

However, as a step forward, for the sake of those children who come from homes without books, then the challenge for the schools in England and Wales to come up with polices, the nationwide discussions that would arise on how best to do this, plus the knock-on effect that this would have on teacher training, I feel that this is the best next step to take.

There is real support for 'reading for pleasure' as an idea, as something which enables young people to make advances in ways that perhaps they haven't before. The support comes from the NUT with its excellent 'Reading for Pleasure' materials, Booktrust, the National Literacy Trust, the Reading Agency, the Campaign for the Book, the many people who signed the 'Just Read' petition, the Evening Standard's reading campaign and so on.

The key issue now is whether the government will run with Ofsted's 'recommendation' or not. And if not, why not.