Tuesday, April 28, 2009

'It's enough to make you weep' says Harriet Sergeant .

Did you read Harriet Sergeant's piece in the MailOnline? It asks why bright children from poor families aren't making it to universities. The problem, she says, begins in the primary schools, 'where children from poor backgrounds are no longer learning to read'.
Leaving aside the fact that it isn't just children from poor backgrounds who are failing to learn to read, Sergeant attributes the failure to the unwillingness of the teaching profession to embrace phonic approaches.
She goes on to point out that if a child has a low reading age, they are hardly likely to have success in preparing for GCSE. She says that as many as a third of 14-year-old boys have a reading age of 11 or below.
Actually, Harriet, I think it's worse than that! The government would not dare to test all 11-year-olds using a standardised reading and spelling test before they leave primary school. Why? Because if they did, it would provoke a national scandal. Figures given to me by a number of special needs coordinators working in secondary schools and screening their Year 7s (first year of secondary school in most authorities) to find out who needs extra support tell us that as many as 60% of children have reading ages below their chronological age and that the number of children with very low reading ages (6 to 7 years) is growing.
It is absolutely vital that we teach all children to read and spell to a very high level of proficiency. If all children are taught these skills, they can at least, whatever their abilities, fulfil their potential.
It is possible to teach well over 95% of children to read. Schools that are using Sounds-Write and teaching the programme with fidelity are achieving results many people previously thought unthinkable.

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