Current Literacy issues across practice, policy and research


Literacy Today No. 61, December 2009





Four years bad. Six years good. Seven years optimal

Independent literacy specialist Sue Palmer argues that both the Rose and Cambridge reviews of primary education may have got it wrong when it comes to school starting age.


Both expert and independent: First thoughts on the Cambridge review of English primary education

Professor Colin Richards, former primary HMI and one of the contributory authors to the Cambridge Review, gives his verdict on Robin Alexander’s final report.


Cambridge primary review

Diane Hofkins takes a detailed look at the findings in Robin Alexander’s final report.


Dyslexia – when nature’s little experiment becomes a literacy conundrum

Al Campbell, author of A Dyslexic Writes, addresses some of the commonly held misconceptions about the nature of dyslexia.


Can babies in class help smash the glass ceiling of pupil achievement?

Aulden Dunipace, Managing Director of the Learning Partnership, writes about an unusual programme that aims to promote the social and emotional development of school children.


Every English teacher will need the English Project

Beryl Pratley, former HMI and head of a University School of Teacher Training, writes about a project that aims to help young people understand the nature of English as a subject.


National Literacy Trust


Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, comments on the Cambridge Primary Review.


Maximising life chances

George Dugdale, Policy adviser at the National Literacy Trust, reports on a conference that took place in November.



The Summer Reading Challenge: Celebrating ten years and looking ahead

Anne Sarrag, Director of the Summer Reading Challenge for The Reading Agency, reports on a conference that examined what the Challenge has achieved over the last decade.


Document Reviews

We review The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2008/09 from Ofsted, and Follow-up Report on Support for People with Dyslexia in Wales from the Welsh Assembly Enterprise and Learning Committee.



2009 Primary School (Key Stage Two) Achievement and Attainment Tables l Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2008-09 l Australian Education Review: Second languages and Australian education l Children, Their World, Their Education: Final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review l Literacy and Life Skills for Pasifika Adults: Results from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) Survey l Mapping State Proficiency Standards onto NAEP Scales: 2005-2007 l Primary Curriculum Review: Curriculum reform consultation report to the DCSF




We report on the latest research and policy news from Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. Reports this issue include sharing good practice and underachievement in literacy in the US; research on the link between spanking and a child’s IQ in Canada; the introduction of National Standards in New Zealand; and criticism of national literacy and numeracy tests in Australia.


Don’t diss blogs and social networking sites: Young people’s writing and technology

Dr Christina Clark, Head of Research at the National Literacy Trust, writes about research exploring how the enormous increase in technology use among young people has affected their writing and the positive link between this new technology and literacy achievement.


REAL (Raising Early Achievement in Literacy) – working collaboratively with families to support early language and literacy development

Helen Wheeler, Senior Development Officer at the Early Childhood Unit (ECU) of the National Children’s Bureau, outlines the aims of a new project inspired by the REAL approach and describes the early stages of implementation.



Research digest

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


Media Watch

Underachievement of white male schoolchildren at primary and GCSE levels; controversial proposed changes to the School Admissions Code; an increase in the number of fathers reading to their children; the Government’s refusal to allow English state schools to use the Cambridge iGCSE; the announcement of a new primary curriculum from September 2011; and the positive effects of mixed-ability classes.



Rates of illiteracy amongst children of primary school age, literacy and numeracy resits for teacher trainees, extension of the reading recovery scheme, primary pupil numbers and implementation of the recommendations of the Bercow review of speech, language and communications needs in the House of Commons; replacement of existing levels A to F in the 5 to 14 curriculum at primary stages in the Scottish Parliament; the Welsh-medium education budget in the Welsh Assembly; and one-to-one tuition in English and maths, basic literacy and numeracy skills and the Cambridge Primary Review in the Northern Ireland Assembly.


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