Current Literacy issues across practice, policy and research


Literacy Today No. 49, December 2006



Despite the generally positive reception that the Government’s renewed Primary Framework for Literacy has received, there are some who still have doubts about certain aspects, especially concerning the use of synthetic phonics.



White House Conference on Global Literacy Moves Toward Life Cycles Education Policy

Thomas Sticht, International Consultant in Adult Education, returns to the theme of “life cycles” education, which is concerned with the knock-on effect of parental illiteracy, and discusses how this policy is supported by one of the three themes of the White House Conference on Global Literacy.



The New Framework: the News is Good

Sara Wernham, teacher at Woods Loke Primary School in Suffolk and co-author of Jolly Phonics, argues that  while the new primary framework for literacy is a considerable improvement on previous government policy, it is also, inevitably, a compromise.


Every Child a Reader

Jean Gross, Director of Every Child a Reader, writes about what has been learnt from the first year of the three-year £10 million initiative designed to help the minority of six-year-olds who lack very basic literacy skills.


Thinking to Read, Reading to Think

In a follow-up to her article in Literacy Today No. 44 on the results of introducing a reading comprehension assessment from New Zealand into her primary school, Donna Thomson writes about the schools’ attempts to tackle the  discrepancy between the primary children’s ability to read and their reading comprehension.



Document Reviews

The documents reviewed in this issue are Working on the Three Rs: employers’ priorities for functional skills in maths and English from the Confederation for British Industry; and The Cost to the Nation of Children’s Poor Communication from ICAN.



Closing the Reading Gap: first year findings from a randomised trial of four reading interventions for striving  readers; The Health Literacy of America’s Adults: results from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult  Literacy; Increasing the Effectiveness of Preschool Programs; The Primary Framework for Teaching Literacy and Mathematics; and Tackling Literacy in Remote Aboriginal Communities.



Bilingual children

Professor Hélène Deacon of Dalhousie University writes about some of the lessons that can be learnt from research into how to best support reading development for bilingual children.



We report on the latest research and policy news from the Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. Reports this issue include the Canadian Government’s announcement of a $17.7 million cut in funding for adult literacy programmes.


Handwriting: a Skill for the 21st Century or Just a History Lesson?

Professor Rhona Stainthorp of the London University Institute of Education discusses whether children’s ever-increasing computer literacy has made the teaching of handwriting obsolete and presents the results of a recent small-scale survey of handwriting policies and practices.


Short Research Reports

A brief report on research claiming that one in ten parents of primary school children in Britain never reads to their children. Also a short report on research that found bilingual children are far more likely to get top-grade passes in exams in all subjects.


Workplace English Language and Literacy Programmes

This report identifies the lack of professional development activities available to Australian Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) practitioners.


Research digest

Ongoing research, article abstracts and article titles of research from education and science journals.



Media Watch

Reports that text message shorthand could help youngsters to improve their literacy skills; a new test in functional skills for bright 12-year-olds; disappointing SATS results in English; the launch of Google’s literacy website; and claims that half of children who recently started school were barely able to speak.



We report on parliamentary questions and debates on the link between communication disabilities and literacy difficulties in primary school children, school leavers who have needed remedial training from their employer, levels of adult literacy in England and Every Child a Reader in the House of Commons; libraries as an educational resource, early years education and basic skills in the Welsh Assembly; and library loans and speech and language therapy in the Scottish Parliament.




National Literacy Trust News

Talk Write conferences; New Talk to Your Baby resource; New Reading is Fundamental UK website; New Reading Champions Toolkit and competition winners 2006; and the Family Reading Campaign’s Family Reading Fortnight.


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