I have been
overwhelmed by your positive responses to newsletter no. 45 from both
longstanding and new friends. Many thanks for your phone calls, e-mails
and letters. I look forward to receiving your research results and
articles for future editions. Several LEAs have requested bulk copies of
the newsletter to distribute through their internal posting systems.
Sadly, others refused, saying the newsletter was too ‘political’. No
one should be deprived of the chance to read the invaluable suggestions,
information and research results we are disseminating. Please subscribe
and tell your friends and colleagues about the Reading Reform Foundation
Just in case
you are wondering – I can assure you the RRF have no political
affiliations. We are concerned entirely with matters of evidence-based
teaching effectiveness, justice, equality and accountability in literacy
education. Why should the literacy health of our nation be considered
any less important than the physical health of our nation? Yet, in the
medical domain everything is tested with the utmost rigour. This is just
not so in education. Fads and philosophies have prevailed over common
sense and statistics for decades.
It is only a
question of time before synthetic phonics programmes reach most
settings. Indeed there are signs that influential people may well be
recommending them covertly. This is not good enough! Our concern is that
our nation’s children are all entitled to it now. The longer it
takes to spread, the greater the number of children who will get left by
the wayside. Who would want that on their conscience?
newsletter no. 46 we ask just how many of the children on our special
educational needs registers are there as a result of flawed literacy
teaching practices. When some schools lead the way with only the
smallest percentages of their pupils classified as having special
educational needs (following a change in their literacy teaching),
shouldn’t we all be sitting up and taking notice? We all need to learn
from the five-year journey described by Marlynne Grant and take
advantage of the experiences within St. Michael’s Primary School.
Having visited the school and seen the results, I have a clear vision of
what is achievable for virtually all children by the end of reception
and believe me - it is inspiring!
the invaluable conclusions drawn in Bonnie Macmillan’s article about
the effectiveness of different literacy-related activities.
Practitioners may wish to adjust the time weightings of their literacy
programmes in the Early Years. We have included a revealing chart to
compare the rate of synthetic phonics teaching with the National
Literacy Strategy ‘Progression in Phonics’. This should clarify the
main differences and aid practitioners in their planning.
increasingly acknowledged that inappropriate literacy teaching results
in high levels of illiteracy. It also leads to child misbehaviour which
may deteriorate to the point of disaffection, delinquency and crime. One
much noted advantage of synthetic phonics teaching is a significant
improvement in behaviour, including that of children from the most
deprived backgrounds. No one is trying to deny the difficulties of
teaching children with poor social and economic antecedents, but all the
more reason to ensure that we afford such children the best possible
opportunities to surmount their circumstances.
change the picture of special educational needs dramatically - if we all had
the will and the information we need to do so!