Doubts over literacy strategy

THE NATIONAL Literacy Strategy is an ineffective way of helping children's language development, according to Dominic Wyse of Liverpool John Moores University.

Mr Wyse, reader in primary education, argues that many of the tactics used, such as beginning each daily lesson by stating its objective, are not supported by research.

He claims that research suggests phonics is most effective at ages five and six, yet the literacy strategy imposes it until age nine.

He also says that the number of grammar objectives fly in the face of research showing grammar teaching is an ineffective way to improve writing at primary level.

Mr Wyse wants to see more emphasis on finding ways to motivate children to write.

He adds that, although the use of lesson objectives is promoted by the Office for Standards in Education, there is little evidence that they improve learning.

He said none of the three studies cited by the 1995 OFSTED Institute of Education research survey fully supports its claim that effective learning only occurs where teachers begin each lesson with a statement of its objective.

Mr Wyse said: "I am not against objective-led teaching but against the heavy emphasis that it is the only effective way to teach."

"The National Literacy Strategy: A critical review of empirical evidence". For copies email B.D.Wyse@liujm.ac.uk

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