Nancy Gedge and Chris Rossiter write a follow-up blog to Through the Looking Glass looking ahead to the issues that need addressing and the questions that school leaders need to ask.
One of the observations made in the Through the Looking Glass Report, launched on the 23rd March, that caused a stir on social media was, ‘Phonics does not work for every learner. This needs to be accepted and alternative strategies for accessing literacy addressed, recognising that failure to pass a phonics test at age 5 or 6 does not mean a learner is destined for failure.’
This does not mean that Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) isn’t a very efficient way to teach young children to read. It also does not mean that it isn’t an excellent way to empower SEND learners who have literacy difficulties, some of whom may have dyslexia, by giving them the tools to unlock new words in reading when they come across words that they have not committed to memory.
However, it is worth pointing out that our comment, while not being about the worth, or not, of SSP, speaks of issues that we would like to see addressed in position papers by organisations such as Ofsted, the Sutton Trust and the Education Policy Institute. We are, after all, a literacy charity.
Issues we would like to see addressed in the future are:
Questions we would like school leaders to ask:
We agree that an aim for universal literacy is a noble one, and one that we MUST pursue. Children and young people with literacy difficulties, from the most profound to the sort that you would only notice on a bad day, deserve just as much attention from policy makers as the typically developing. And we, as members of the body of professionals who work within the field of education, have a duty to ensure that, where the needs of the learner require us to, we use our professional expertise to adapt both our methods and curriculum in this aim.