Phonic factions should call truce;Letter

12th March 1999 at 00:00
WE HAVE been challenged to produce our evidence that synthetic phonics is particularly effective (TES, February 26) by a strategy group that has been formed to champion analytic phonics. We are very happy to provide the full statistical account to this group, but they have not asked us for it.

This research is not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal as the study is still ongoing because we wish to examine its long-term effectiveness in promoting reading comprehension.

We would like to emphasise that this method is not a "sounds first" approach, as there is no training in hearing sounds in words without the aid of print. Our method also rapidly introduces children to print in text, and teaches them the reading of irregular words. If systematic training in segmenting print into onsets and rimes produces very good results on a norm-referenced reading test, we would be very interested in seeing that research.

In order to act in the interests of children, researchers should be aiming towards collating all information so that the most effective schemes are put into practice, not forming rival factions and scoring points off each other.

Rhona Johnston and Joyce Watson

School of Psychology

University of St Andrews

Fife

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