Current Literacy issues across practice, policy and research


Literacy Today No. 57, December 2008



Is Reading Recovery a luxury we can’t afford or a necessity we can’t afford to do without?



Bursting the testing bubble

Diane Hofkins, formerly primary editor at the TES who now writes for Education Journal, argues for the need for radical changes to the primary school testing system.



Reading too soon?

Dave Hancock, Head of Education and Volunteering for the British Telecom Better World Campaign, argues that teaching children to read and write before the age of eight is contributing to children’s lack of verbal communication skills.


Using phonics with deaf children

Chris Griffiths, International Development, THRASS UK, writes about ground-breaking free software allowing deaf children to be taught using synthetic phonics.


Dispelling the mysteries of language and literacy development

Jeren Balayeva, M.A., Ed.D., MLIS, Knowledge Officer, and Melanie Slade, B.Sc., B.Ed., Communications Officer at the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network, write about the world’s first free online resource devoted solely to early language and literacy development.


National Literacy Trust


Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, exposes the dangers of celebrities underplaying the importance of literacy.


Do baby buggies affect development?

Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, developmental psychologist at Dundee University’s school of psychology, reports on research into the impact of buggy orientation on parent-child interaction and infant stress.


Early Reading Connects

A new National Literacy Trust initiative supports early years practitioners in bringing the joy of stories and words to young children and their families. Project manager Rebecca Green explains.


The impact of age on pupils’ reading

George Dugdale, Policy Advisor at the National Literacy Trust, investigates what can be done to keep children’s level of interest in reading as they grow older.


Building sustainable skills for reading pleasure

A new pilot project, supported by Starbucks Coffee Company, UK, is developing the Reading Is Fundamental, UK model. Caroline Sence explains.



Document Reviews

In this issue we review Implementation of the International Plan of Action for the United Nations Literacy Decade: Report of the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation from UNESCO; and Meeting Needs? The Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service, 47th Report of Session 2007/08 from the Public Accounts Committee.



Help with Reading; New Thinking series; Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector 2007/08; and What Kids Are Reading: The book-reading habits of students in British schools.



Literacy changes lives

Christina Clark, Head of Research, and George Dugdale, Policy Advisor, at the National Literacy Trust, write about research into the effect of literacy levels on an individual’s life.



We report on the latest research and policy news from Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. Reports this issue include controversy at the International Reading Association conference in Canada, rising tuition fees and the dangers of using exam results to construct league tables in the US, Australia’s first national literacy and numeracy tests, and the launch of New Zealand’s Literacy Language and Numeracy Action Plan 2008–12.


Beyond simple comprehension

Jo Tregenza, former literacy consultant for West Sussex LA, and Dr Maureen Lewis, independent literacy consultant and honorary research fellow at the University of Exeter, write about an action research project into teaching children explicitly how to use and reflect on a range of active comprehension strategies.


Counting the cost of Reading Recovery

The recent Channel 4 documentary, Lost for Words, highlighted the benefits of using synthetic phonics to teach children to read but questioned the cost of the Reading Recovery literacy intervention programme. Julia Douëtil, trainer and national coordinator for Reading Recovery, asks whether it is a luxury we can’t afford or a necessity we can’t afford to do without.


Attitudes to reading survey – rhyme or reason

Children’s reading habits and preferences are changing. In particular their enjoyment of poetry is declining. How might their enthusiasm be re-ignited? Juliet Sizmur, Senior Researcher at the National Foundation for Educational Research, reports on a recent survey and describes how pupils in one Year 6 class in South Wales have developed an infectious zest for poetry.


Reading to children

This article presents analysis of the latest findings from the Millennium Cohort Study, focussing on parenting skills.



Media Watch

The Foundation Stage Profile, free broadband, a warning to publishers, and the Government’s decision to scrap Key Stage 3 tests.


Research digest

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



Dyslexia funding and primary school reading in the House of Commons; adult basic skills and reading for understanding in the Scottish Executive; specialised reading centres in the Northern Ireland Assembly; and a debate on support for dyslexic people in the Welsh Assembly.



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


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