Picking up sub-skills of reading

7th March 1997 at 00:00
The BBC script writer John Sullivan, in conversation with Sarah Conway (TES2 February 21), records that, as a child, he found books boring, incomprehensible and to be avoided. That changed when his teacher, a Mr Trowers at Telfer Scott secondary school, Balham, brought books to life for him by reading them aloud, funny accents and all. In addition, as John Sullivan listened, his head buried in the book, he understood all about punctuation and grammar.

In the new Teacher Training Agency curriculum for teacher training, outlined in the same TES, the "essential core" is totally to do with sub-skills: breaking down compound words, paragraphing, graphic and phonic knowledge, apostrophes in the right place. Why does the TTA not listen to the evidence of John Sullivan and thousands like him who indicate that sub-skills become interesting and easy when experienced within a context of a teacher who likes reading, knows hundreds of children's books and reads aloud well to the class? Why are not these the first "basics" in the national curriculum for primary English?

Mr Trowers gave John Sullivan "Dickens fever". What sort of fever will the new curriculum give our students and their pupils?

Judith Graham, Principal lecturer Roehampton Institute London SW15

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today