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Reader recovery

Jean Gross Director, Every Child a Reader, London

Effective and necessary as synthetic phonics teaching is, it is unlikely that there will be a panacea for all children with literacy difficulties, as Geraldine Carter suggests. A child who at six is struggling to "hear"

differences between sounds, or distinguish between letters, who may not know what a "word", "letter" or "page" means, who may have impoverished language, or who can barely write his or her name, is likely to need an intervention that has systematic phonics at its heart but is also multi-faceted and complex - not so much "whole language" as "whole child".

This is what Reading Recovery offers, and why it works.

It lifts eight out of 10 of the very lowest-achieving children back to average literacy levels for their age after about 38 hours of one-to-one teaching; the remainder make a year's progress in reading age within 20 weeks. Schools readily see the need for excellent phonics teaching for all children and a highly personalised approach for a small number of children.

This is not a case of eitheror, but a joining up of what we know about evidence-based practice, to make sure we really can make all children readers by the age of seven.

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