This paper reports on an investigation into the interactive and discourse styles of a nationally representative sample of primary teachers (n = 70) as they work with pupils who experience difficulties in literacy development during whole class and group-based sections of the literacy hour. Using a computerized observation schedule and discourse analysis system, the paper explores the impact of the official endorsement of 'interactive whole-class teaching' on the teaching of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) in the literacy hour to see whether the National Literacy Strategy (NLS) is promoting their active involvement. The findings suggest that while the NLS is encouraging teachers to involve pupils with SEN in the literacy hour, the discourse is dominated by teacher explanation and question/answer sequences that provide little opportunity for pupils of all abilities to initiate, explore and elaborate on their ideas. The implications of the findings are considered in the light of their impact on classroom pedagogy and the professional development of teachers who are charged with implementing the national policy-led initiatives like the NLS.
- national literacy strategy
- special educational needs
- interactive whole class teaching
- literacy hour