Introduce zero tolerance for reception readers

13th September 1996 at 01:00
I am very happy that you are now endorsing what I have been saying for 20 years - you urge attention on reception and Year 1 (TES, August 30). Yes indeed, that is where it all either works or fails. But you suggest zero tolerance for reading failure in Year 1. I suggest zero tolerance for reception class.

Most children are ready to start learning to read (by phonics) from their fourth birthday, and can be reading at the end of reception class. People keep on saying how much the youngest children learn at very young ages, and I believe it. But they are not shown the way. They keep on colouring and pasting, playing with water, when they could be learning to sound out letters, to write letters.

Learning to read is the ladder out of the pit. Half the children in juvenile court are dyslexic. In my local education authority, schools are finding budgeting difficult because they are spending thousands on fencing, vandalism and theft. There are endless articles on "girls outperforming boys", but why do you not mention that four boys are dyslexic to one girl? There are articles on drop-outs. The clients for learning at 16 plus - and in university too - lack the literacy they need. So they drop out.

Professor Peter Mortimore is saying good things now that schools need to know how similar schools are faring. And this means making the 7 plus Average Reading Quotient public - when they get around to using standardised reading tests instead of or as well as national tests. I really do want to know which schools are teaching reading well, and the Office for Standards in Education reports and national tests simply do not tell me what I need to know.

We now have phonics accepted as necessary, testing accepted as necessary and results per school seeming desirable. We just need the 7 plus ARQ per school, and then parental choice would do the rest.

MONA MCNEE Reading Reform Foundation 2 Keats Avenue Whiston Prescot, Merseyside

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