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Rose teaches us to suck eggs

I watched open-mouthed (well, metaphorically) Ruth Kelly's proclamation on reading and synthetic phonics.

She gave the impression that she had made an Archimedean Eureka-style discovery: that phonics (synthetic or organic) can help children learn to read.

I do not need to repeat the arguments for the value of phonics, within a range of strategies. Ask one of the army of skilled early-years teachers for proof of that.

Yet Ms Kelly made no mention of the most important element of all in teaching children to read: the skill of the professional teacher. This reading initiative will be yet another "good idea" from the Department for Education and Skills handed down from on high with the arrogant phrasing: "This is what I want all schools to do."

No doubt there will now be another round of expensive and time-consuming inset for teachers using a large number of well-paid consultants teaching their grannies to suck eggs.

Get out into schools Ms Kelly and see the use of phonics, and, talking of initial sounds, look at the initial letters of your full title : Secretary of State. That mnemonic will be heard in every staffroom this week.

Tony Roberts

144 Cop Lane, Penwortham Preston, Lancs

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