Current Literacy issues across practice, policy and research


Literacy Today No. 46, March 2006



Thursday 2 March was the date for the UK to celebrate the arrival of World Book Day, the annual celebration of books and reading marked on various dates in over 30 countries. The spur for thousands of events to take place in schools, bookshops, libraries and numerous other venues, World Book Day raises both awareness of the pleasure of reading and also money to buy books for developing countries, through Book Aid international.



Israeli Phonics Success

Harry J. Lipkin, Professor Emeritus at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, describes the LITAF phonics programme, and the lessons that we could learn from its proven success in the teaching of Hebrew and Arabic.


A Co-operative Approach to Accelerating Reading

Marilyn Jones-Hill and Wendy Houldey present a case study of a school’s successful implementation of the Success for All FastTrack Phonics literacy programme.


BBC RaW Campaign Enters Its Second Phase

Jack Soper, RaW project associate, writes about the BBC’s work with World Book Day and Quick Reads, as well as its other projects underway this year.


The Pleasure Principle - Reading and Adult Literacy

Kay Jackaman, Campaign Manager for the Vital Link, discusses its progress in helping to promote reading for pleasure among adults and the results of a literacy practitioner questionnaire.


Toe by Toe Goes from Strength to Strength

In an update to an article from March 2004, Frank Cowling writes about the latest achievements of a unique scheme to combat illiteracy in our prisons.


Budding Authors Are Given the Chance to Turn over a New Leaf

New Leaf Publishing is a project that helps adults to overcome their literacy difficulties as well as publishing their work. Co-founder, Anne Chester, explains the ethos behind the project.


Hooked on Books: Motivating Students to Read

New Leaf Publishing is a project that helps adults to overcome their literacy difficulties as well as publishing their work. Co-founder, Anne Chester, explains the ethos behind the project.


Poor Skills in the Retail Trade and Construction Industries

Robert Nurden, of Lancaster University-based The Network, reveals some uncomfortable statistics about the lack of basic skills qualifications among workers in the retail trade and construction industries.




We report on the British Psychological Society’s January conference, which included Dr Jonathon Solity of Warwick University warning that a phonics-based approach to reading could be detrimental to children’s learning. We also report on the Basic Skills Agency and National Literacy Trust’s joint Debates Conference on the teaching of literacy.


Document Reviews

The documents reviewed in this issue are Skills for Life: improving adult literacy and numeracy from the Public Accounts Committee; English 2004/5 Annual Report on Curriculum and Assessment from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority; and Reducing Reoffending through Skills and Employment from the DfES.



Ploys for Boys: selections, recollections and strategies to get boys reading; Developing a Handwriting Policy for Your School; Learning to Learn for Life: research and practical  examples for the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1; Meaning to Talk Suite; Sue  Palmer’s Synthetic Phonix; Raising Standards in Literacy; Which Handwriting  Scheme?; A Clear Direction: The Learning and Skills Council’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2004-05; Literacy, Numeracy and the Labour market: further analysis of  he Skills for Life survey; and Literacy and Digital Technologies: linkages and outcomes



Learning Styles

Professor Frank Coffield, of the London University Institute of Education, questions the usefulness of teaching children according to the DfES-endorsed ‘learning styles’ approach and instead endorses formative assessment.


Atlantic Inquiry

Our North American Editor, Robin Close, gives an extended report on research and policy in the United States and Canada, including coverage of the recent Canadian federal election.


Reading and Its Development: Insights from Brain Science

Professor Usha Goswami, of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge, details some of the latest developments in our understanding of literacy and the brain, focusing specifically on the science behind dyslexia.


How Effective is Reading Recovery?

This report presents the findings of a New Zealand study on Reading Recovery. It focused on school decisions about Reading Recovery and other interventions and their impact on the performance of Maori and Pasifika students.


Why a Whole-language Approach is Not the Answer

This Australian review of research on approaches to literacy teaching found that the predominant whole-language approach to the teaching of reading is ineffective.


Research digest

Ongoing Research, article abstracts and article titles.



Media Watch

The creation of the Chair of Inclusive Studies at the University of Aberdeen; the rise of Valley Girl English; the dangers of phonics lessons and a pioneering new reading programme.



We report on a House of Lords debate on dyslexia, in the light of the Dispatches programme, as well as the publication of the Public Accounts Committee’s Skills for Life report. Answers to written parliamentary questions include those on the National Literacy Strategy in the House of Commons and dyslexia in the Welsh Assembly.




National Literacy Trust News

Primary literacy conferences; Literacy and Social Inclusion Handbook; Reading the Game works with BBC RaW; Children’s Party at the Palace; Family Reading Campaign; and 1,000th Reading Connects School.


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