Tragic missed opportunity

22nd December 2000 at 00:00
I was very pleased to see another article about Kobi Nazrul, Ruth Miskin's outstanding school, in Tower Hamlets, on your double-page spread on the literacy and numeracy strategies, (TES, December 1).

It is mystifying that the Department for Education and Employment sought her advice for the phonics element of the National Literacy Strategy, then failed to heed it.

One has to question who has influenced the national literacy team and whether the strategy is promoting best practice in the early years. The phonics element is too little, too late and too slow.

Education minister Estelle Morris (Letters, December 8), ably fights her corner by stating that in reality the literacy hour was invented by New Labour. Will she be so proud when it becomes widely known there are many language experts fighting the corner of every child to receive the best and most effective early literacy education?

The implication is that all the money, organisation and efforts to implement the strategy have been squandered on flawed methods. Te DFEE has tragically missed the opportunity to "get it right".

The consistent and successful outcomes of the synthetic phonics approach include early and advanced-level skills of reading, writing and spelling for almost 100 per cent of children, greatly reduced special needs, reduced symptoms of dyslexia, no gender gaps, great success for children with English as an additional language (as in Ruth's school), to name but a few.

I hope Estelle Morris will soon fulfil her responsibility as standards minister to respond to those people who are concerned that we shall fail another generation of children.

Schools purporting to "do phonics" as per the strategy, are giving children an inferior version of phonics amid a dose of whole language and guesswork strategies.

It is little wonder that David Blunkett can only aim at 80 per cent literacy success, rather than the near 100 per cent achievable with the correct early literacy foundations.

Debbie Hepplewhite Walnut House, Floreat Gardens NewburyBerkshire

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