The debate to 'raise standards' in education stemming from Sir Keith Joseph's 1984 north of English speech reaches a conclusion in the present Labour government's National Literacy Strategy (NLS). This chapter looks at the background to the implementation of the NLS in its first stage in primary schools from 1997 to 1998, and then, following the brief pilot project, the introduction of The Framework for Teaching English: Years 7, 8 and 9 (DfES, 2001) in secondary schools from September 2001. The Framework sets out detailed objectives for teaching at each Year group; these are linked directly with LEA, school and individual year group target-setting to ensure that the vast majority (85 per cent) of pupils achieve Level 5 or above at the end of Key Stage 3. The impact upon secondary English departments, and indeed on whole school policy, has been huge. However, considering the governmental commitment to the initiative in terms of infrastructure, training and school-based resources, the actual implementation of the strategy is also varied in practice in individual schools. You may find wide differences in the way departments have organised their planning, use of starters and plenaries, and assessment across schools that may surprise you. You will need to understand the initiative as a historical and political instrument for reform and development in schools, and the details of the content in order to grasp the opportunities offered by the Strategy, as well as be in a position to critique it. The Key Stage 3 Strategy originally had three elements which ran to schools: at departmental level there is the Framework for teaching English (DfES, 2001); at the department for pupils with AEN/English department interface there are the Literacy Progress Units (DfES, 2001) for those pupils working below Level 4; and at whole school level there is the relaunch of the 1980s initiative of Language across the Curriculum as Literacy Across the Curriculum (DfES, 2001).
The Framework has teaching objectives for years 7, 8 and 9, grouped into Text, Sentence and Word level work. These provide continuity and progression with the NLS