Current Literacy issues across practice, policy and research


Literacy Today No. 44, September 2005



The new editor gives a warm welcome to the first issue of the newly-expanded Literacy Today. Although the magazine will no longer be produced directly by the National Literacy Trust, the format will remain broadly similar and we will continue to receive the Trust’s advice, as well as continuing to feature a page of news from the NTL.




Every Child Matters

Viv Bird of the National Literacy Trust highlights the importance of home and community literacy and looks at how the introduction of Every Child Matters has provided a unique chance to incorporate a home and community literacy strand into local authorities’ Children and Young People’s Plans.


What is Synthetic Phonics?

As the debate surrounding the teaching of synthetic phonics rears its head once again, and the Government announces an independent review into the role of synthetic phonics in teaching reading, Sarah Wernham asks the most important question.


The best method for teaching literacy

Masha Bell addresses the misconceptions and misunderstandings that have arisen from the success of the Clackmannanshire phonics experiment and suggests that a closer scrutiny of current research might be more effective than expensive Government trials.


Employer training pilots

Educational consultant and author Maureen Lewis describes how ICT-based reading texts, original texts conceived and written for the ICT medium, are developing new approaches to literacy teaching.


Thinking to Read, Reading to Think

Donna Thomson and Ruth Nixey write about how introducing a reading comprehension assessment from New Zealand into their primary school highlighted an extraordinary discrepancy between the children’s ability to read and their overall comprehension.




We report on the NFER-organised Assessment and Literacy in Primary Education in 2015 conference, which was part of the QCA’s English 21 initiative, and the UK Skills’ Excellence Improvement & Innovation conference, which celebrated the work of Learning and Skills Beacons.


Document Reviews

The documents reviewed this issue are Could They Do Even Better? The writing of advanced bilingual learners of English at Key Stage 2: HMI survey of good practice from Ofsted; Working with 14–16-year-olds with Basic Skills Need in FE Colleges from the Basic Skills Agency; Changing Lives: adult literacy and numeracy in Scotland from HMIe; and Developing Writing through Reading, Talking and Listening from HMIe.



Insights from Research and Practice: a handbook for adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL practitioners; Breaking down the Barriers: success in widening participation – a toolkit approach; Changing Lives: adult literacy and numeracy in Scotland; Digest of the Education Act 2005; Family Literacy,Language and Numeracy: a guide for extended schools; From University to Village Hall; The National Assessment of Educational Progress 2004: trends in academic progress;  Plain Guide to the Education Act 2005; and Strengthening Family Literacy, Language and Numeracy: good practice  guidance for planning and delivering joint sessions.



Literacy for Empowerment through Training in Ethnographic Research

Brian Street, of King’s College, London, describes a literacy project currently in progress in India that is aiming to teach literacy to rural women and to develop teaching and learning materials for women’s empowerment.


Atlantic Inquiry

Our North America editor, Robin Close, reports on research and policy in the United States and Canada, looking specifically at developments that took place over the summer in both countries with respect to early childhood literacy.


The effect of aircraft and road traffic noise on children’s reading

Charlotte Clark and Stephen Stansfeld of Queen Mary, University of London, summarise the findings of the RANCH project, which examined the effects of aircraft noise and road traffic noise exposure at school on children’s reading.


Literacy in rural England

Chris Atkin, Anthea Rose and Rosie Shier argue that provision of adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL in rural communities, and engaging learners in that provision, is a major challenge for providers and policy makers alike.


Resource teachers: literacy

This research, from S. McGough and N. Bennie, of the Research Division of the New Zealand Ministry of Education, illustrates the changes that have occurred since RT:Lits replaced Resource Teachers of Reading in 2001.


National Reporting System

This research, by Kate Perkins for the Australian National Centre for Vocational Education Research, sought to provide insights into how the National Reporting System is currently being used and its potential for adaptation to a broader range of applications.


Research digest

Ongoing Research, article abstracts and article titles.



Media Watch

A series of programmes from Newsnight on the use of phonics in Britannia Primary School in London; ‘Blair’s £1 billion literacy drive fails GCSE test’ from the Sunday Times; and the widening of the gender gap in primary schools reported by the Guardian.



We report on two House of Lords debates, on the Literacy Hour and libraries, as well as answers to written parliamentary questions in the House of Commons covering the period June to September. We also review Government responses to three House of Commons Education Select Committee reports on prison education, teaching children to read and 14–19 education.




NLT News

Vital Link national conference; Vital Link online toolkit; School Reading Champions; Reading Connects competition; Reading Is Fundamental news.


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