Rose crushes our freedom

5th May 2006 at 01:00
Colin Richards is right to highlight how government prescription of synthetic phonics to teach reading is undermining teacher's professionalism ("Dissent in a sentence" TES, April 21).

This prescription rests on recommendations made in the Rose review of the teaching of early reading. Yet, the insistence on a method that will not make sense to many children in the class is countered by other advice in the Rose report, which emphasises the importance of teachers exercising their professional judgement.

Local authorities are now being asked how they intend to "enforce" the Rose review.

This will confront many early years' advisers, and indeed some of their primary strategy colleagues, with a dilemma. Many of them agree with the Early Years Curriculum Group's campaign for teachers to refuse to implement this aspect of the report, knowing that there are more effective ways to foster children's literacy through the kind of rich curriculum Rose himself recommends.

They, along with specialist early years academics, researchers and inspectors, realise that children can learn systematic phonics easily at a later stage, as they do in other countries. Anyone interested in the evidence for this claim is welcome to contact me.

I would also like to hear from anyone who can explain why this evidence has been brushed aside, and why the expert advice at the highest levels has been ignored.

Teachers welcome the relaxation of rigid requirements for the literacy hour: it is perverse to impose inflexible approaches on the youngest children who most need responsive teaching while introducing personalised learning for older pupils.

Hopefully, professional integrity will prevail in local authorities and schools when primary strategy training starts in the autumn term.

Wendy Scott

Peter House, Braithwaite

Keswick, Cumbria

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