The National Literacy Strategy and setting : a policy for inclusion
Within this study, I look at the rationale for, and the resulting effects of, setting for teaching literacy under the National Literacy Strategy (NLS). The study starts with my own experiences as a teacher and culminates in my role as a Research Associate at Newcastle University. There is, therefore, a crossover from micro to macro scale data collection, with the latter completed as part of a national funded research project. The key issues within this study are setting, inclusion and the NLS recommendations for teaching literacy, and these I relate to the debate about „progressive‟ and „traditional‟ teaching methods which have dominated education policy since 1870. A mixed method approach is used to investigate the incidence of setting for literacy, the rationale for its implementation and its impact in the classroom. Although the literature and the majority of the evidence from this study do not support its use, the incidence of setting was found to be high, with the likelihood of implementation linked to the demographic make up of the school roll. Teachers were found to rationalise the move to setting by identifying issues resulting from the increase in whole class teaching in the Literacy Hour, particularly to a diverse range of abilities and the target driven nature of the literacy curriculum. However, the analysis reveals little evidence to support the move towards ability grouping: the impact on patterns of interaction and the effect on value added reading scores show setting to be detrimental, especially to pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Pupil attitudes are also shown to take a more negative turn when setting is implemented, although the trends within this aspect of the study are more complex and point to some interesting findings which need further research.