Current Literacy issues across practice, policy and research


Literacy Today No. 52, September 2007



The debate over the degree to which synthetic phonics should be used to teach early reading continues. A report from Civitas claims that poor achievement, related poor behaviour in secondary schools and a related rise in the number of young people not in education, employment or training are all directly related to the standard of literacy teaching that children receive in primary school.



Neuroscience trends and adult literacy

Tom Sticht, International Consultant in Adult Education, discusses three important publications on the subject of neuroscience, which relate to the importance of adult education for sustaining cognitive functions.



Simplifying spelling from A to Bee

Vikki Rimmer, of the Simplified Spelling Society, on how the inconsistencies of the English language make it one of the most difficult European languages to learn.


A window into the mind: Using miscue analysis

Following her article in the last issue on the importance of using context cues alongside phonics, Pat Farrington moves on to write about her small-scale research into miscue analysis, a diagnostic and formative tool to investigate children’s reading.


Take action: Read to Feed

Now in its twentieth year, the charity Send a Cow is appealing to UK schools to help families in Africa by taking part in the Read to Feed sponsored reading scheme. The charity’s education officer, John Cleverley, explains how the scheme can be of educational and practical value.


Sensitive observation and the development of literacy: A tribute to Marie Clay

This article by Margaret M Clark is a personal tribute to Dame Marie Clay who died in April 2007. Marie was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1987 and named New Zealander of the Year in 1994. She was awarded honorary degrees by five overseas universities and was the author of 32 books. Tributes to her contribution to early literacy have been paid around the world.



Document Reviews

The documents reviewed in this issue are World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch review of skills in England from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and Ready to Read? From Civitas.



2006 School Leavers; Annual Monitoring of Reading Recovery: the Data for 2006; Early Childhood Development: A powerful equalizer; Fostering Partnership Development in Workplace Literacy: A case study of the Canadian national literacy secretariat business and labour partnership program; Gaining and Losing Literacy Skills over the Lifecourse;  Integrating Equity, Addressing Barriers: Innovative learning practices by unions; Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success: The draft Maori Education Strategy 2008 – 2012; Moving Beyond Identification: Assisting Schools in Improvement; and Parents, Carers and Schools.




We report on the latest research and policy news from Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. This issue include the news that, from 2008, students across Australia would be taking part in national literacy and numeracy tests, following an agreement between the state and territory governments.


Harry Potter and the great reading revolution

Margaret Willis investigates why the Harry Potter books have been so successful in encouraging children, and especially boys, to read, and why it is proving difficult for these new enthusiastic readers to move on to other novels.


Improving writing: Implications for teaching and learning can help!

Julie Sewell and Dr Frances Brill, senior research officers at the National Foundation for Educational Research, write about a project that analysed test papers to help produce teaching aids for reading and writing, focusing in this article on the children’s writing.


School planning and reporting in action

The New Zealand Council for Educational Research examined responses to two national surveys of primary and secondary schools to gauge their perceptions of the impact of the Planning and Reporting framework on teaching and learning.


The value of basic skills

This research draws on evidence from the 2004 British Cohort Study to look at the link between basic skills and earnings, estimating the wage return to both literacy and numeracy.



Media Watch

One-on-one tuition for struggling pupils, the launch of Letters and Sounds, the splitting of the DfES, QCA’s concerns over vocational diplomas, research showing that Brits are reading more than they did in the 1970s, the new secondary national curriculum, and LearnDirect’s claim that many adults are struggling to read bedtime stories to their children.


Research digest

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



We report on debates and answers to written parliamentary questions concerning literacy, including those on reading mentors, the Bookstart scheme, teenage boys’ reading skills, the national literacy strategy, assessment, Every Child a Reader, the blind and partially-sighted, and libraries.




National Literacy Trust News

National Year of Reading; Family Reading Matters magazine and DVD; Fourth annual Pushing The Envelope auction; Communication Consequences conference; and Star Reads posters.


<< Back to latest issue