All mixed up over dyslexia policy

23rd January 2009 at 00:00

Labour MP Graham Stringer is quite right to say that the label of dyslexia is all too often used as an excuse for poor literacy teaching ("A week in education", TES, January 16), although that is not to say the condition doesn't exist.

But who is to blame? Step forward his own party. Its policy on literacy is confused. On the one hand, it promotes an overly prescriptive version of synthetic phonics through its Letters and Sounds programme, leading teachers to abandon the other good materials that are on the market. On the other, the reception year is having direct teaching hollowed out of it.

Moreover, the Government-appointed independent primary review proposes to deepen the already existing faultline between reception and the rest of school by emphasising child-led, "play-centred learning", when research shows that children who learn to read at an early age are ahead of peers who begin later, and they maintain that advantage until the end of primary school. It also rehashes old ideas such as cross-curricular learning.

Mr Stringer is right to highlight the problems of the past, but current policy is setting up a new generation for potentially greater failure.

Christopher Jolly, Managing director, Jolly Learning Ltd.

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