Current Literacy issues across practice, policy and research


Literacy Today No. 54, March 2008



This April sees the official launch of activities for the 2008 National Year of Reading. This year-long celebration of reading aims to help build a greater passion for a national pastime that recent reports in the press suggest is slowly dying out. The campaign will try to encourage the British public to increase the amount of reading they undertake, at home or at work, and will also provide people with greater help and support for reading through schools and libraries. Activities will focus on reluctant readers, those with low confidence, and boys and their fathers.



Foundation Stage principles could be extended through the infant years – and even higher

Diane Hofkins, formerly primary editor at the TES, on the Government’s announcement that former chief primary HMI Sir Jim Rose will be heading a review of the five to 11 curriculum.



Boost for children with SEN

Jane Parrack, Deputy Marketing & Communications Manager at The National Strategies, writes about Phase 1 of the Inclusion Development


Boys and guns

Dr Peter West, formerly of the University of Western Sydney, examines the controversy surrounding the British Government’s suggestion in its report, Confident Capable and Creative, that boys be allowed to play with guns in early years learning.


Primary Review

We report on the latest research from Cambridge University’s review of primary education, which claims that the pace of change in primary education in the last 15 years has been a great burden and cause for complaint for schools.


National Literacy Trust

Are the literacy targets impossible to reach?

Rodie Akerman, former policy analyst at the National Literacy Trust, examines the use and relevance of literacy targets.


What’s hot, what’s not 2008

Dr Christina Clark, senior policy and research analyst at the National Literacy Trust, reports on a survey of UK education professionals that asked them to identify which literacy-related topics they thought were likely to be ‘hot’ and which were not in 2008.



The National Year of Reading and the need for a renewal of the definition of reading in schools and in society programme, which focuses on dyslexia and speech, language and communication needs.



Document Reviews

In this issue we review Report of the Enterprise and Learning Committee: Interim report of the Dyslexia Rapporteur Group from the cross-party Dyslexia Rapporteur Group in Wales, and A Curriculum for Excellence: Literacy across the curriculum from the Scottish Executive.



Evaluation of the Literacy Professional Development Project; Financial Literacy:  Lessons from international experience; Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum; Call for Evidence; Health Literacy in Canada: Initial results from the Adult Literacy and Skills Survey, 2007; Programmes for Unemployed People since the 1970s: The changing place of literacy, language and numeracy; Right from the  Start: Literacy and families; Skills and Social Practices: Making common cause; and To Read or Not To Read: A  question of national Consequence



Children’s attitudes to reading

Children’s enjoyment of reading, which was rapidly declining in 2003, appears to have stabilised in 2007 but remains significantly below the levels of enjoyment reported in 1998. Juliet Sizmur, Senior Researcher at the National Foundation for Educational Research, reports on a recent survey.



We report on the latest research and policy news from the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Reports this issue include results from the 2006 PIRLS study and the announcement of education funding for 2009 in the US; celebrating Family Literacy Day and improving early childhood development in Canada; raising the basic skills of the workforce in New Zealand and Australian education experts’ rejection of evidence that phonics improves reading skills.


Assessing oracy: Storytelling – part two

Following her article in the December issue, Claire Hodgson, senior research officer at the National Foundation for Educational Research, provides further case studies collected during research in Wales on the assessment of pupils’ oracy skills.


Music: The secret ingredient in a recipe for reading success

Heather O’Rourke and Hélène Deacon of Dalhousie University, Canada, write about research exploring whether the use of music in reading instruction could help literacy acquisition.


Building vocabulary in high poverty children

Natasha Hank and Hélène Deacon of Dalhousie University write about a language and literacy intervention that was incorporated into the American Head Start programme to help build vocabulary in children from disadvantaged backgrounds.


Who is a good learner?

Ruth Boyask, of the University of Plymouth, presents some of the findings from a New Zealand project that identified the need to change teachers’ and pupils’ perceptions of what makes a good learner.



Media Watch

Fears that as many as a third of pupils could be receiving the wrong grades at school because of flaws in examinations, the Government’s review of the primary curriculum, the Scottish dyslexia summit, the link between pupils’ behaviour and their proficiency at English, and  expected teacher shortages.


Research digest

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



Concerns regarding dyslexia across England, Scotland and Wales, and research on international comparisons on literacy in the House of Commons, the National Year of Reading in the Scottish Executive, and increasing the levels of childhood literacy in the Welsh Assembly.



Details of upcoming conferences and other literacy-related events over the next four months.


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