MINISTERS' efforts to improve reading through the National Literacy Strategy are doomed to failure, according to a report out today from the right-wing Centre for Policy Studies.
The author, Tom Burkard, says the strategy fails to ensure that schools use phonics, and promotes the wrong type of phonics in any case. He favours externally-administered tests for seven-year-olds so that teachers can see for themselves what works.
The report backs "synthetic" phonics, which scored highly in a Scottish study.
"Initial attempts by the DFEE to dismiss the Clackmannanshire findings have failed; officials are now trying to claim - wrongly - that their policies are in tune with them," the report says.
"Analytical" and "synthetic" phonics both focus on the building blocks which make up words. However, supporters of "synthetic" phonics believe that children should be taught all the letter sounds before they start reading books.