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Special needs that phonics can help

IN his letter, Leslie Duffen (TES, December 13) suggests that phonics should only be taught when children have "an extensive listeningspeaking vocabulary and good hearing and speech".

I have visited a number of schools where phonics is taught very successfully to children with complex special educational needs, using, for example, the Progression in Phonics materials and signing systems such as cued articulation.

Such schools have found that systematic work on phonics supports children's ability to process and articulate speech sounds, as well as extending the number of words they can read.

The pace of teaching needs to be modified, of course, but it would be unfortunate if we were not able to learn from the work of specialist teachers.

Jean Gross

Regional director SEN, National literacy and numeracy strategies Centre for School Standards 60 Queens Road, Reading

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