Approved reading method 'almost a form of abuse', says academic

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Health & Education Editor

THE Government’s insistence that all children are taught how to read in the same way may “almost be a form of abuse” against those who are already comfortable with books, a leading North-East academic has warned.

The interests of able readers are being threatened by ministers’ stipulation that all English state primary schools teach synthetic phonics, where children are taught common letter sounds which they then blend to form words, exclusively to all pupils at the start of school regardless of how advanced individuals already are in their ability to read for meaning, it is claimed.

Able early readers, and those already well on their way to reading, are likely to be put off by the Government’s requirement that they read books specially written only to feature words for which they have been taught the phonetic rules in class previously, rather than a wider range of books.

The claims are made by Andrew Davis, research fellow at Durham University’s School of Education.

Dr Davis, a former primary teacher, says a “small minority” of children begin school already able to read for meaning, and that a larger group know some words.

“To subject either the fully-fledged readers, or those who are well on their way, to a rigid diet of intensive phonics is an affront to their emerging identities as persons,” he writes.

“To require this of students who have already gained some maturity in the rich and nourishing human activity of reading is almost a form of abuse.”

The new national curriculum, to be taught to English five- to 14-year-olds from September, says that, in year one, children should be taught to read only using “books which closely match their growing word-reading knowledge.”

Comments (4)

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12:14am Tue 28 Jan 14

Voice-of-reality says...

Once more a further reason for assisted places to be brought back so that those children who are bright can escape the prescription of the 'lowest common denominator' state sector
Once more a further reason for assisted places to be brought back so that those children who are bright can escape the prescription of the 'lowest common denominator' state sector Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 2

9:26am Tue 28 Jan 14

smokin says...

it's not their reading that they should concentrate on but their spelling
when I questioned why my grand daughter's spelling was the way it was and not corrected I was told by the school " to tell a child that the spelling is wrong is to undermine that child" surely the old fashioned spelling test and corrections is the way of learning no wonder so many of our school children can't read and write properly
it's not their reading that they should concentrate on but their spelling when I questioned why my grand daughter's spelling was the way it was and not corrected I was told by the school " to tell a child that the spelling is wrong is to undermine that child" surely the old fashioned spelling test and corrections is the way of learning no wonder so many of our school children can't read and write properly smokin
  • Score: 3

10:48am Tue 28 Jan 14

David Lacey says...

Leading Academics are the cause of many problems, not the solution to them. They are paid out of the public purse and their motivation is to produce reports (which invariably gather dust on the top shelf) that cause controversy. Most of them have never done a proper job for any length of time - certainly not one where they have to generate income and profit.
.
Our education system was broken by 50 years of nutty left wing theories. Time to bring back Grammar Schools, testing at 5 and 11 and for those who aren't the brightest, the chance to take a craft apprenticeship at 15.
Leading Academics are the cause of many problems, not the solution to them. They are paid out of the public purse and their motivation is to produce reports (which invariably gather dust on the top shelf) that cause controversy. Most of them have never done a proper job for any length of time - certainly not one where they have to generate income and profit. . Our education system was broken by 50 years of nutty left wing theories. Time to bring back Grammar Schools, testing at 5 and 11 and for those who aren't the brightest, the chance to take a craft apprenticeship at 15. David Lacey
  • Score: 2

2:22pm Tue 28 Jan 14

MavisE says...

I'm privately teaching a highly intelligent 11 year old who has Dyslexia, to spell. Can she read well? YES - and she has been able to do this for several years. Now, being a more accomplished speller, her handwriting has also improved.

When will Academics realise that some children need phonics to help them to spell, not only the words that they have never seen before, but those they have seen but of which they have forgotten the order of the letters (graphemes).

If they can do this before they reach the secondary school level it will help them to cope with a more complex curriculum.

'Phonics' is never at fault - it's the abusers of it who are. The government needs to make sure that all teachers acquire the concepts, information skills and abilities to teach literacy well.
I'm privately teaching a highly intelligent 11 year old who has Dyslexia, to spell. Can she read well? YES - and she has been able to do this for several years. Now, being a more accomplished speller, her handwriting has also improved. When will Academics realise that some children need phonics to help them to spell, not only the words that they have never seen before, but those they have seen but of which they have forgotten the order of the letters (graphemes). If they can do this before they reach the secondary school level it will help them to cope with a more complex curriculum. 'Phonics' is never at fault - it's the abusers of it who are. The government needs to make sure that all teachers acquire the concepts, information skills and abilities to teach literacy well. MavisE
  • Score: 0

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