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Phonics beat;Letter

According to Tom Burkard (TES, May 9), children shouldn't be given books to read until they've completed a phonic programme. It's so depressing hearing someone banging that drum again.

He points out that the activities involved in a whole language approach don't "help poor readers to master essential phonological skills". Of course they don't: they help them to master other important concepts about literacy.

The particular phonics approach he mentions (described in Sue Lloyd's Phonics Handbook) has many strengths, and I recommend it widely. But using it doesn't preclude using other approaches.

Code-driven and meaning-driven methods of teaching reading are not mutually exclusive.

SUE PALMER 11 St George's Road Truro, Cornwall

Letters should be kept as brief as possible. They should be sent to The Editor, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY Fax: 0171 782 3200e-mail: letters@tes1.demon.co.uk

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