Current Literacy issues across practice, policy and research


Literacy Today No. 56, September 2008



September’s International Literacy Day saw a special focus on the important relationship between literacy and health, which was the theme of the 2007/08 biennium of the UN Literacy Decade.



The learning power of reading groups

Debbie Hicks, Director of Research at The Reading Agency, writes about the success of library reading groups in promoting reading for pleasure, and how the achievements of one regional reading group pilot project could lead to a national roll-out of the programme.


Try Learning: Taking study support into the sports club

Lisa Fenaroli, Centre Manager at Try Learning, explains what has made the scheme, which is part of the Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Playing for Success initiative, so successful at improving children’s literacy, numeracy and it skills.


‘There is no tee sound in cat

Graham Frater writes a retrospective book review of Russell Stauffer’s 1975 book, Directing the Reading-Thinking Process, which argues against current government policy on the teaching of early reading.


National Literacy Trust


The debate around age banding of books has received much coverage in the media and angered many authors. Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, examines both sides of the argument.


Literacy under the Conservatives

George Dugdale, policy adviser at the National Literacy Trust, writes about Conservative literacy policy and the very different approaches of two recent policy documents, Breakthrough Britain from the Social Justice Policy Group and Raising the Bar: Closing the Gap.


Response to the Bercow Review

George Dugdale, policy adviser at the National Literacy Trust, responds to the publication of the Bercow review’s final report on services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs.




We report from the United Kingdom Literacy Association international conference, ‘Identities, Cultures and Literacies’, which took place at Liverpool Hope University in July. We also report from the British Educational Research Association conference, which took place at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, in September.


Document Reviews

In this issue we review Teacher Trainees and Phonics: An evaluation of the response of providers of initial teacher training to the recommendations of the Rose Review from Ofsted, and The Bercow Report: A review of services for children and young people (0-19) with speech, language and communication needs from the DCSF.



A Comparative Study of Small Group Classroom Literacy Instruction and Computer-based Literacy Instruction on the Success of Adult Learners in GED Preparation: A Province Wide Intervention; Comparison of the Core Primary Curriculum in England to those of Other High Performing Countries; Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How; Literacy and Linguistic Diversity in a Global Perspective: An intercultural exchange with African Countries; Perceptions of Teachers and Teaching: A Focus on Early Childhood Education; Reach Higher, America: Overcoming crisis in the US workforce; Signposts to Literacy for Sustainable Development: Complementary studies



Complex expression in writing

This study from Exeter University reviewed research carried out in secondary schools to find out the best ways to help children express themselves accurately in their writing.


Interesting choice

Caroline Phythian-Sence, Reading is Fundamental Project Manager, and  Christina Clark, Head of Research at the National Literacy Trust, look at the impact of choice, interest and self-awareness on reading behaviour.



We report on the latest research and policy news from the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Reports this issue include results of the first uniform national literacy and numeracy tests in Australia and a report from the Canadian Council on Learning on low adult literacy levels.


PIRLS in New Zealand

Megan Chamberlain, PIRLS National Research Coordinator at the New Zealand Ministry of Education, writes about some of the country’s results from the 2005/06 study.


Developing workers’ literacy skills

This research, carried out for the Australian National Centre for Vocational Education Research, explores employers’ views on the provision of literacy, numeracy and employability skills and their continuing development in the workplace.


Family literacy, language and numeracy

This summary, from the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy, covers recent and ongoing NRDC research on family literacy, language and numeracy, as well as drawing on international research and UK case studies.



Media Watch

The National Challenge, Liberal Democrat plans to scrap SATs tests, misuse of teaching assistants, parents who don’t see the point of reading to their children, a review of the Early Years Foundation Stage and exam results for Key Stages and GCSE.


Research digest

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



International literacy comparisons, the teaching of handwriting and literacy teaching for deaf children in the House of Commons, functionally illiterate children in the Scottish Parliament, and the Bookstart scheme in the Northern Ireland Assembly.



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


<< Back to latest issue