Government focus on ‘literacy’ will limit writing talent, claims Morpurgo

Currently, government measures of literacy focus on the ability to decode regular words and read them aloud, read some common irregular words and show other pupils what they have read.

Writing for Teach Primary magazine, Morpurgo said he takes issue with this approach, and claims that teaching should instead focus on getting children to read stories and poems, as well as focus on creativity and the opportunity for children to make up stories of their own.

He said: “’Literacy’ is the government’s word now, and it’s not one of which I am fond, loaded as it has become with political baggage.

“It is certainly good that over the past few decades we have recognised that the whole subject of reading, and getting children to read, is of prime importance – but rather than ‘literacy’, I wish we could talk about poems, literature, creativity.

“Those authors who created Toad, and William, and Winnie the Pooh didn’t do it because they went to school and did Literacy. Those stories came from a different place of learning, where children were allowed to explore, even when it became uncomfortable.

“It would be wonderful, I think, if there could be half an hour at the end of every school day (that time when everyone knows you don’t teach or learn anything anyway) given entirely to story making. “

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “We want every child, regardless of their background, to read widely and read well, giving them the greatest opportunity to fulfil their potential.

“The best way to achieve this is to develop a love of reading from as early an age as possible and that’s why we have funded the Reading Agency to expand its Chatterbox book clubs scheme in primary schools. We have also replaced the overly prescriptive curriculum with a new slimmed down version that gives teachers the freedom to use the methods they know best that will inspire their pupils.”

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