Sounding out phonic variations

3rd December 2004 at 00:00
I was dismayed to read the article on phonics (TES, November 19) with reference to the much-needed inquiry into the teaching of reading by the Education and Skills Select Committee.

Having been invited to be a witness at the first meeting of this inquiry, I consider that the slant of the article was seriously skewed.

TES readers will surely be interested, and are entitled to know, about points mentioned during this first meeting which were apparently of no interest to you. These include:

1) The serious questions I was able to raise about the accountability of the Department for Education and Skills regarding the lack of objective testing with experimental and control groups of the National Literacy Strategy reading programmes.

2) The lack of transparency of the Office for Standards in Education's reporting on the teaching of reading in schools which is described as if all schools follow the NLS guidance for reading when they do not.

3) The unacceptable fact that local education authorities, headteachers and teachers are not informed of any research or statistics to support the efficacy of using the NLS reading instruction programmes and the worry that teachers have accepted the NLS training in good faith believing it to be based on research.

4) I was able to point out that following a meeting with Baroness Ashton during which she requested the names of exemplar phonics schools to visit, the Baroness failed to fulfil this intention and the Reading Reform Foundation never heard from her again.

Fortunately, there is a transcript of the meeting informed by Dr Morag Stuart and myself and a televised version on the Select Committee website.

Debbie Hepplewhite Editor of the Reading Reform Foundation website www.rrf.org.uk Reading Reform Foundation Walnut House Floreat Garden Newbury Berkshire

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