Teachers Told to Use Phonetics in Reading 'U-Turn'; Strategy Altered to Tackle Illiteracy

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Byline: DOMINIC HAYES

PRIMARY schools are to be told to use a back-to-basics method of teaching reading to cut embarrassing illiteracy rates.

Nearly one in five children leave primary school unable to read at the level expected of 11-year-olds.

Tomorrow, a major government review will recommend teachers spend more time using a technique known as " synthetic phonics", which shows children how to match sounds with letters and then blend them to form words.

The review was set up by Education Secretary Ruth Kelly after a Labourdominated committee of MPs said the government's flagship reading programme, the National Literacy Strategy, had an "unacceptably high failure rate".

The Commons Education Select Committee urged her to study the results of a trial of synthetic phonics in the Scottish area of Clackmannanshire.

That trial showed pupils who had done six years of the method were three-and-a-half years ahead of their age in reading and nearly two years more advanced in spelling.

Former senior Ofsted inspector Jim Rose was appointed by Ms Kelly to head the review, but he is not expected to recommend a complete overhaul of the literacy strategy. …