Harriet Sergeant · illiteracy and social cost

The social cost of illiteracy.

If you’re a teacher and you can get past the headline, the article by Harriet Sergeant in the Mail on 22nd September is about as hard hitting as it can get. The message is that illiteracy is a blight on our society and that the price we pay for continuing to allow huge numbers of or children to enter secondary school unable to read and write is appalling.
The trouble is that it needn’t be so. Phonics does work! In collecting data over the past six years, Sounds-Write has proved that the vast majority of children can be taught to read and spell by the time they get to the end of Key Stage 1. This is because it offers training in how to teach and the best way for children to learn – and that isn’t through trying to discover things for themselves!
What the DCSF just doesn’t get is that if you want teachers to teach effectively, you can’t stick a manual in their hands and expect them to get on with it. Teachers need proper training: training in how the English reading and writing system works, training in how to introduce it and teach it from simple to complex, and training in how to know what to do when children make errors. Unless all practitioners are given rigorous training the problem will continue.