Early-years inspectors are up to the task

15th April 2011 at 01:00

Reading too much into the Tickell review?

Dame Clare Tickell's review of the Early Years Foundation Stage is a long report containing over 100 pages, with 77 pages of evidence, but nowhere could I find mention that "the role of phonics in teaching early-years children to read should be downgraded" ("Phonics knocked off perch by official review", 1 April).

Dame Clare's report recognises that children's learning at school is built on foundations in the "prime" developmental areas of language and communication, personal, social and emotional development, and physical development. Children establish these foundations at differing rates depending on a range of factors, including specific language difficulties and social disadvantages, and we know that an overly prescriptive curriculum does not cope well with this.

It is therefore heartening to see the recommendation that "teachers should make individual judgements about children's readiness for more overt instruction, based on each child's development, identifying children who need further help with oral language and concentration skills". Does this mean that overt instruction is "less important" or that, for example, phonics has been downgraded? Not as I see it.

Dr John Rack, Head of research, Dyslexia Action.

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