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Speak helps with literacy

The latest reports examined by Reva Klein

Children make the best progress in reading and writing when all aspects of language learning are thoroughly integrated, a study for the Basic Skills Agency shows. Poor progress in writing, on the other hand, is common in schools where teachers are over-anxious about covering every detail of the national literacy framework.

In the study, former HM Inspector Graham Frater finds that in the most effective schools - often in challenging urban areas - talking and listening are lively and lead into and flow out of reading and writing.

Staff at these schools are confident about their teaching and planning ensures that pupils practise using language inwriting, speaking and reading throughout the school day. Reading practice extends into extra-curricular activities and pupils' homes.

In schools which do not do well, teachers are often too conscientious about obeying what they see as a diktat, carefully addressing each of the literacy teaching framework's categories - word level, sentence level and text level work - in turn, rather than integrating them. Grammar and spelling take up too much time, leaving little time for reading and writing stories, poems and other texts. The active use of language is under-emphasised.

* Securing Boys' Literacy: a survey of Effective Practice in Primary Schools, free from the Basic Skills Agency

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