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Government’s Focus on Phonics is Under Fire

Thursday 7th July 2011

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Education have published a report today that raises concerns about the Government’s focus on teaching reading using phonics to children in schools. Called ’Overcoming the Barriers to Literacy’, the report is supported by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA). The report says: “The government’s focus on systematic synthetic phonics is at odds with the views of many within the education community, who believe that it risks making reading a dull exercise for English classes.  The report identified that ‘phonics’ and ‘reading’ are being used interchangeably by policymakers, but reading isolated words is not reading for meaning.”

The literacy report is based on evidence gathered from 584 teachers and educational stakeholders including the teachers’ unions, publishers, literacy associations, and other organisations. Many of the respondents also wanted to dispel the myth about how phonics is currently used.  Most teachers already use phonics to teach reading, but they do so by blending phonics with other reading strategies.

Combined use of phonics and other learning strategies have been found to produce the best results in children who not only need to learn words but are encouraged to enjoy reading too. The report says that teachers prefer to use a wide range of teaching resources to teach the importance of reading for pleasure as well as literacy.

For more information take a look at our list of companies offering free English teaching resources.

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