Nonsense words spell a nonsensical future

14th January 2011 at 00:00

The reference to "phonics phanatacism" in last week's editorial was a reminder that the promotion of literacy skills is much too important to be left to the vested interests of pressure groups. Those groups frequently confuse the words "evidence" and "proof".

There may be some evidence to suggest that synthetic phonics might raise the standard of literacy skills, but there is no proof that this is the case.

It is theoretically possible, given appropriate teaching, for all normally endowed Year 6 pupils to acquire level 5 literacy skills. In September 2010, I provided a number of schools with the means of testing this theory in a way that specifically excluded phonics.

Although only about one-third of their pupils had been predicted to achieve level 5 English, even at this halfway stage in the project, current "evidence" suggests that more than double this number will now achieve level 5. I will, however, only regard the theory as having been proven, and the remedial irrelevance of synthetic phonics established, if at least 90 per cent achieve this standard!

Eddie Carron, Education researcher, Shrewsbury.

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