Reading the signs of arbitary targets

29th November 2002 at 00:00
IN an otherwise balanced article I was disappointed to see Sue Palmer contribute to the myth that phonics is "probably vital" to the acquisition of literacy. Phonics cannot be "vital" - if it were, children with profound hearing andor speech impairment could not be taught to read or write.

What phonics "probably" does is contribute to the efficient teaching of reading and writing, especially where there are large classes and adult resources are at a premium. Similarly, there is no evidence that instruction in phonics before the age of six or seven has any effect on literacy levels at age 11.

Once again, it would seem, the best interests of children are to be sacrificed in the cause of politicians meeting ill-conceived and arbitrary targets, in this case key stage 1 national tests.

John Griffiths

12 Kempton Avenue

Northolt, Middlesex

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