Readers in the Slow Lane; over the Past Decade Cardiff Council Has Developed a Number of Ways of Helping Children Who Struggle to Read and Write, as Diana le Cornu, Senior Specialist Teacher, Explains

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), March 27, 2012 | Go to article overview

Readers in the Slow Lane; over the Past Decade Cardiff Council Has Developed a Number of Ways of Helping Children Who Struggle to Read and Write, as Diana le Cornu, Senior Specialist Teacher, Explains


CHILDREN taught through the Foundation Phase will have had many opportunities to enjoy books and experiment with writing.

Schools have book corners, exciting non-fiction displays, writing areas where every kind of pen, brush, pencil and paper is available, and computers and interactive whiteboards.

Children have the chance to read and write as part of their learning and play.

In groups, teachers introduce pupils to early reading books and the mechanics of reading: learning high frequency words, hearing the sounds that words are made up of and learning the letters of the alphabet. Children's first attempts at making marks on a page are encouraged into correct letter shapes and simple spellings.

Taking part in the active Foundation Phase means that by five or six most children will have gained the early stages of reading and writing.

But what of the 20% who don't just pick it up? Cardiff schools use the following techniques to help pupils improve their reading and writing.

SAIL (School Action In Literacy)/SAIL Cymraeg Most schools have teachers and teaching assistants trained to deliver SAIL. By the middle of Year 1, pupils who are not yet showing an understanding of the early stages of reading, writing and phonics work on a daily literacy programme in groups of four. Carefully chosen reading books are given to the school and lessons are planned involving group reading, phonic activities, learning key words and writing in a funbut structuredway.This continues for 20 weeks and then they are re-assessed.

Most will have made good progress and catch up to the average group in their class.

STARS (Specialist Teachers Accelerating Reading Skills)/STARS Cymraeg This approach concentrates on writing. It is for children in Years 2 or 3 still having difficulties in early literacy. Children develop skills by writing their own little books, beginning with simple sentences such as: "I went to. …

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