Important gaps in literacy recommendations

1st January 2010 at 00:00

The Literacy Commission has produced recommendations aimed at developing Scotland as a fully-literate nation. Although there is much in the report to be welcomed, there are some important gaps.

For example, the section on the early years and socio-economic advantage omits two important facts. First, socio-economic disadvantage itself is not the best predictor of outcomes, rather it is the degree of engagement parents and other adults have with the infant, particularly in conversation.

Second, building family and community capacity can significantly improve that engagement, resulting in better outcomes for children.

Disappointingly, the report seems to favour professional intervention over developing family and community capacity. The report praises the Reggio Emilia model developed in Italy, but omits to mention programmes that have had proven success in the UK, such as Bookstart, which engages parents in reading and talking with their child from birth.

The report also omits to list the "variety of individuals and organisations" from which it took evidence. Perhaps had the research been wider in its focus, including informants from community development, health and library services, the report would have been able to make a more informed list of recommendations.

Jeannie Mackenzie, director, Conditions for Learning, Gateside Place, Kilbarchan.

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