May 2015

Although levels of literacy have increased well with the introduction of The National Curriculum and the acceptance of the pre-eminent importance of phonics in the teaching of reading, I continue to see children, in particular dyslexic children, who have not mastered the early stages of reading by six or seven years of age. This is despite a couple of years of teaching.

There are two changes I would like to see to improve this situation.

One, would be a decrease in the prevalence of an exclusive use of ‘synthetic phonics’. Unfortunately although well-intentioned, its exclusive use has led to the abandonment of the role of the recognition of single words as part of the early teaching of reading. Names and words such ‘said’ and ‘you’ need to be learnt as ‘sight’ words as they can’t be sounded out. Although these words are recognised as ‘tricky’ in the newest practice, there is so much emphasis on ‘sounding out all through a word’, this aspect gets lost to the detriment of some children.

The second would be the re-printing of the many brilliant reading schemes which guarantee dyslexic children will eventually learn to read. I would hope, beg and pray that a publisher, a wealthy individual or, dare I say it, a government department will reprint these books. The ones we need to see back in print are:

Link Up (about 15 books) – for beginners; one of the few written specifically for those with reading difficulties

  • New Way (about 40 books) for young beginners
  • Ginn 360 (about 40 books) A reasonable standby
  • Thunder (short scheme about a dinosaur and friends) Also published by Ginn
  • Robot (short scheme about a robot and a girl) Also Ginn
  • Last but not least for Upper Primary / Lower Secondary: The Wellington Square Series.

These all combine phonic progression with sight word development.

That is not to say that there haven’t been good new reading schemes developed over the last 25 years, but these ones need to come back into print to at the very least give choice!


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