Sunday, December 04, 2005

Literacy and Phonics

Currently the hottest issue for professional debate among educators in England - the best ways to teach children to read.

An independent Review group on the teaching of early reading, including the role of 'synthetic phonics' methods, has issued an interim report which came out in favour of that approach as most effective.

Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Education, accepted the point and her Department for Education and Skills acted quickly. From September 2006 primary schools in England will have to work with a new literacy strategy which prescribes synthetic phonics. A Guardian article reports on the anger of many teachers at this change.

Research findings in Clackmannanshire, Scotland, are a key part of the evidence in favour of synthetic phonics. A BBC story 'New reading system wins backing' outlines support for this approach.

But one of the strengths of Scottish education is that it does not usually prescribe or insist on one solution. It accepts that there are alternative ways of doing things, and allows diversity to test out different ways ahead.

There is also some debate about whether the gains experienced by primary children taught by synthetic phonics methods are sustained into their secondary education. More research needed?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a former HMI I am used to family & friends asking for a view on changes in education. But syntehtic phonics has been the one thing that has got people out there excited (or do I mean hot and bothered?). The Clackmannan experience certainly gives us hope for improvement in reading in Scottish primary schools. Walter P.

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