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New primary strategy programme is sound practice

Dr Rita Ray, a literacy consultant, recently expressed concerns about Letters and Sounds, the new Primary National Strategy programme (TES, August 24).

We devised and conducted research in Clackmannanshire that showed the effectiveness of the synthetic phonics approach in developing reading and spelling with children just starting school. We would like to reassure her, and others with similar concerns, that Letters and Sounds has a very similar lesson plan to our own tried-and-tested programme, and follows the same progression. Therefore, in our view, the only untested element of Letters and Sounds is its play-based approach.

As long as teachers carry out the programme diligently and make sure that children concentrate on the literacy goals of the lessons, there is every reason to think that Letters and Sounds will prove to be as effective in developing reading and spelling skills as our own programme.

Professor Rhona S. Johnston

Department of Psychology,

University of Hull

Dr Joyce Watson

School of Psychology,

University of

St Andrews

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