Letter to Woman's Hour/Our Right to Read Trust

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Letter to Woman's Hour/Our Right to Read Trust

Post by quipg. » Fri Apr 08, 2005 2:57 pm

Fiona sent me a copy of her e-mail to Woman's Hour and I thought that rrfers would be interested. It's very eloquent. Dear Geraldine,

Thank you for telling me about the Woman’s Hour programme with Rhona Johnston and Sue Palmer. I rang the programme and was given an e mail address-this is what I sent them. I am afraid it reflects my frustration and desperation, yet again, about what is happening to our children ….All that needs to happen is that they need to be TAUGHT to READ –no faffing, just taught to read and their brilliant little brains will do the rest…the comprehension, the context what ever else they need but without being able to read the words on the page they are quite simply handicapped and WE (society) are doing it to them. Our language is a code and we are not giving them the key to this code.
Any way this is what I wrote:

I am enormously grateful to Rhona Johnston and her colleague Joyce Watson for their terrific work in Clackmannanshire and not least for making the Commons Select Committee wake up and realise that the NLS is not teaching all our children to read. Joyce is a committee member of the Reading Reform Foundation as I am, as well as Professor Diane McGuinness with whom I have collaborated in writing a 'catch-up' programme for children and young people who have failed to learn to read. During the past 5 years I have taught at least 150 young people 1-1 to read in approximately 18 hours of careful tuition and have trained many teachers in the method, The Sound Reading System. We have had 100% success.

A Charitable trust has been set up in Oxford, Our Right to Read so that those that have struggled to learn can receive support -regardless of ability to pay. As well as supporting learners financially one of the main aims of the Trust is to advance Literacy by the straight forward teaching of the sound to letter(s) correspondence, therefore establishing a simple understanding of the English language code as the key to reading.

I have been a teacher for 30 years, but in the six years that I have been working with this method I have become increasingly horrified at the level of failure induced in perfectly 'ordinary' children. Ordinary in the way that most of our children are: perfect human beings born with all their faculties: sight, hearing, speech, natural enthusiasm and curiosity, a willingness to learn, a delight in the world...reduced in a few years of incompetent teaching (going on all across the country) to thinking of themselves as 'rubbish' (countless children have described them selves as such to me)-children who have been so knocked back in their early years that they have no belief in them selves at all. I meet desperate parents all the time, beside themselves with what is happening to their precious children. We have a teaching profession (through no fault of their own) who are unable to teach a great swathe of our children and who blame and label our children as 'dyslexic', with 'learning difficulties' etc etc ...and all the other boxes they can put them in...It is a National Literacy Scandal of great and tragic proportion. When you have also undertaken teaching the bright boys in our Young Offenders Institutions and seen that yet again Literacy -or the lack of it -has destroyed them your anger knows no bounds –and that is where I am…also

It has been fascinating to note that Jamie Oliver had alerted this comfortable nation in 2005 that we don't know how to feed our children and we now need to alert the nation that we don't know how to teach them to read either. There is absolutely no reason for this failure at all.

I am attaching some basic information about the method, about the charitable trust, Our Right to Read that hopes to go national and some case studies of individual children. This may well be too much information but it was hard to sieve out what to send you. I would be very happy to talk to you.
Fiona Nevola: Tel 01865 728760
69, Divinity Road
Oxford OX4 1LH

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