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Look closer to home for successful programmes to teach reading

The First Steps project from Western Australia has gained the attention of chief inspector Chris Woodhead, Labour's David Blunkett, and John Stannard, who is to direct the Government's network of 13 literacy centres (TES, June 7).

This Australian programme has received special attention from the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and Office for Standards in Education officials. However, there are UK programmes which have not received due attention by our educational decision-makers.

It is clear from the excellent debate conducted through TES columns that there are at least two UK programmes that could fulfil pupils' needs. Claire Riche (TES, June 7) indicated that a phonographic method is the one most likely to succeed. However, she is incorrect in her assertion that THRASS is the only programme that fulfils this requirement. Toe by Toe is showing excellent success with pupils in 50 Bedfordshire schools, is used in a successful secondary "buddies" system in South Wales, and with prisoners and members of the armed forces. Its teaching structure is so precise that it can be used by parents, classroom assistants or older and more able pupils and colleagues.

I urge SCAA and OFSTED to evaluate the two UK programmes without delay. The answer to the needs of pupils and adults with literacy problems is already in our midst. We don't always need to look abroad for successful methods of teaching and correcting literacy.

Dr JEAN ALSTON Chartered psychologist and special educational needs consultant 7 Harrington Drive Gawsworth Macclesfield.

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