Letters Extra: Different strokes for different folks

13th December 2002 at 00:00

We note with interest the view expressed in two TES articles (November 15 and December 6) that synthetic phonics is important for reading and analytic phonics is helpful for spelling.

It is also suggested that boys may do better with a different blend from girls.

In Clackmannanshire we carried out a 16 week intervention in Primary 1 (Reception) in which
children were taught to read and spell by our synthetic phonics programme.

At the end of their third year at school, the girls read 15 months ahead of what would be expected for their chronological age, and spelt 10 months ahead of age level.

However, the boys read 23 months above what would be expected for their age, and spelt 10 months ahead of age level. Thus with our synthetic phonics programme boys read better than girls.

We carried out another study in which we examined the effects of analytic phonics teaching. At the end of the third year at school, the girls read nearly 7 months above age level, and spelt 0.5 months above age level.

The boys read 3 months above age level, but were 4 months behind for their age in spelling. Attainment is lower with an analytic phonics programme, and boys read and spell significantly less well than girls with this method.

Professor Rhona S Johnston and Dr Joyce Watson
University of Hull and University of St Andrewsnbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

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