Literacy Teaching Is Failing,warns Ofsted

Article excerpt

Byline: TIM MILES

A REVOLUTION in teaching reading that has "transformed" literacy standards in primary schools is far from complete and is misunderstood in too many primary schools - the Ofsted schools watchdog warns today.

At its core is "phonics", the traditional method of teaching children to read by recognising the sounds of letters ("kuh, ah, tuh" spells cat), which fell so far out of favour 20 years ago that advocates resorted to using it in secret.

Phonics was restored in the National Literacy Strategy, introduced three years ago with dramatic effect - apparently putting the Government on course to hit ambitious targets next year.

But this year's test results show progress has stalled. Today, school inspectors suggest one possible explanation is that phonics is still being ignored or poorly taught in many lessons.

They say that, although more phonics is being taught, it is still not having enough impact on standards of English at the end of the first key stage of primary schools .

Almost one third of seven-year-olds failed to reach the expected standard in reading in this year's tests. More than four in 10 failed in writing.

A study of 300 primary schools showed that teachers understood the importance of using phonics at the very beginning of primary school. But many abandoned it too quickly, before the foundations of their pupils' literacy were sufficiently established. In primary reception year, phonics figured in more than 90 per cent of lessons. …