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Comics, phonics and the fight for literacy

Having castigated Miriam Gross for not providing facts to back up her "accusations" in the report So Why Can't They Read ("Marks out of 10", TES Magazine, August 13), Michael Shaw fails to provide any facts to back up his assertion that "the reality is that synthetic phonics can be found in every primary school".

Prior to the new guidance in 2007, well-taught synthetic phonics was in a handful of primary schools, while advisers promoted the (now abandoned) Searchlights strategies. The "new" guidance is, indeed, in all primary schools, in that each school was provided with five copies of the book Letters Sounds. But unless teachers are so obedient to diktat that they immediately drop their long-established methods on the receipt of new "guidance", it is unlikely that there was an immediate, nationwide change. Some teachers are not even aware that Searchlights have been extinguished.

Maggie Downie, Literacy intervention tutor (KS3), County Durham.

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