Current Literacy issues across practice, policy and research


Literacy Today No. 55, June 2008



National tests and league tables have come in for more criticism, most recently from the House of Commons Select Committee for Children, Schools and Families, which argued that the continued misuse of national testing could lead to damaging consequences for the education system and for children.



The quality of teachers

Diane Hofkins, formerly primary editor at the TES, argues that quality of teaching is the key to creating a high quality education system. She also cites research suggesting that teachers should be involved in the development and evaluation of policy.



Genes and literacy development

Professor Brian Byrne of the University of New England, Australia, argues the controversial point that ability in literacy could be largely influenced by genetic inheritance.


English and dyslexia

Masha Bell, author of Understanding English Spelling, explains why the English language is so difficult for children to acquire and asks whether it is fair that bright children diagnosed with dyslexia should receive more help than other children with literacy difficulties.


Primary Review

We report on the latest research from Cambridge University’s review of primary education, which investigated grouping arrangements and class sizes, and the effect of the physical classroom conditions on the work of primary pupils and their teachers.


Letters and Sounds one year on

Jaz Ampaw-Farr explains how an evaluation of the Letters and Sounds guidance has exposed some of the confusion over the range of phonics programmes on offer.


National Literacy Trust

The cultural offer

George Dugdale, policy adviser at the National Literacy Trust, assesses the literacy implications of the Government's cultural offer for children and argues that it has the potential for a significant positive influence on children’s achievement and enjoyment of reading.


Literacy in the Children’s Plan

George Dugdale, policy adviser at the National Literacy Trust, on how the delivery of the Children’s Plan presents further opportunities to foster a reading culture.



The Bercow Review of services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs.



Document Reviews

In this issue we review Every Child a Reader: Guidance for local authorities from the DCSF, and Responding to the Rose Review: schools’ approaches to the systematic teaching of phonics from Ofsted.



Comparison Between NAEP and State Reading Assessment Results: 2003; Comparison of Literacy Progress of Young Children in London Schools: A Reading Recovery follow-up study; Illuminating Disadvantage: Profiling the experiences of adults with Entry level literacy or numeracy over the lifecourse – Summary report; Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory; The Influence of School and Teaching Quality on Children’s Progress in Primary School; The Nation’s Report Card: Writing 2007 – National assessment of educational progress at grades 8 and 12; and The Value of Basic Skills in the British Labour Market.



Being a reader: The relationship with gender

Dr Christina Clark and George Dugdale of the National Literacy Trust, and Rodie Akerman of the University of London Institute of Education, argue that girls are being excluded by the current policy drives to engage reluctant male readers with reading.



We report on the latest research and policy news from the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Reports this issue include raising the leaving age for education and training in New Zealand.


Illuminating Disadvantage

Professor John Bynner, of the University of London Institute of Education, reports on analysis of the 1970 British Cohort Study, which shows that falling behind in literacy and numeracy at an early age can have negative consequences on a person’s entire adult life.


Drop early years targets, warns advisory group

A panel of experts who have been advising the government on policy for the under-fives have demanded radical changes to literacy targets for preschool children.


Reading Recovery in London schools

Dr Sue Burroughs-Lange of the University of London Institute of Education, conducted research examining the long-term gains of Reading Recovery.


No To Failure

Dr Chris Singleton, Senior Lecturer in Educational Psychology at the University of Hull, and Rosie Wood, Specialist SpLD Adviser to the No To Failure project, report on the results of the screening phase of the study.



Media Watch

The axing of hundreds of popular BTEC and City and Guilds courses, in an attempt to streamline qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds, lack of confidence in the national testing system, fears about employees’ lack of basic skills, a lack of clear leadership on 14-19 education, GCSE results and a critical report from the Select Committee for Children, Schools and Families.


Research digest

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



The teaching of phonics, support for pupils with dyslexia and encouraging adults to improve their reading skills in the House of Commons, and the Curriculum for Excellence, dyslexia, adult learning services and school library services in the Scottish Parliament.



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


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