Will we be scapegoats in Rose reading inquiry?

14th October 2005 at 01:00
I find it extraordinary that Jim Rose is calling for action now on the teaching of reading ("Reading chief calls for instant action", TES, September 30).

Mr Rose states that "heads and literacy co-ordinators already know what is needed", but if they did, key stage 2 results would be much better. Rather than the current 20 per cent of pupils not reading at the expected level - after six years of the National Literacy Strategy - the results would be more in line with schools using systematic synthetic phonics. With "ordinary" intakes, this method can achieve KS2 results of around 5 per cent of pupils reading below the expected level (such as at St Michael's, Stoke Gifford).

Mr Rose's brief from the House of Commons select committee was to investigate the methods of teaching reading. With his review barely half completed he appears to be implying that there is not much wrong with the current methods and that failure to improve lies with teachers, rather than their methods. This makes a mockery of the review process.

The more cynical among us may be tempted to assume that the result has already been decided, and that the review is nothing but an expensive exercise in whitewashing the literacy strategy.

To once again blame teachers, without a proper investigation, is outrageous and can do nothing for their morale.

Despite their obedience to the literacy strategy directives, teachers are genuinely baffled by the failure of 20 per cent of children to progress satisfactorily. What is worse, children themselves are being blamed for failure or being written off at an early age as being incapable of learning.

The boredom and disaffection suffered by these children over 11 years of compulsory schooling does nothing to improve the educational climate in the schools they attend, nor does it help the luckier, literate pupils who have to endure the disruption these children cause.

I only hope that Mr Rose's comments are an uncharacteristic error of judgement and that he manages to achieve a properly researched, evidence-based, conclusion when he reports early in 2006.

Maggie Downie. Beechburn Farm, The Hollow Crook, Co. Durham

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