Phonics urged as remedy for early literacy delay

Melanie Defries
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Phonics should be taught by all early years providers and schools and children's progress in developing phonic knowledge and skills should be regularly assessed, according to a new report from Ofsted.

Removing barriers to literacy says that poor development of speaking and listening skills at an early age is holding children back from learning to read and write.

The report says the best early years providers and primary schools understood the need to teach phonics rigorously and systematically and the importance of regular practice in reading.

The coalition Government has committed itself to promoting systematic synthetic phonics in schools, and a reading test for all children at the age of six will be piloted from June. A report by Ofsted in November called phonics an 'indispensable tool' that should be used to teach children how to read by age six (News, 17 November).

Inspectors visited 45 early years settings, 37 secondary and 61 primary schools, mainly in deprived areas, which had all been found to have strengths in their provision, particularly for those who were eligible for free school meals.

Teachers said the main problems were poorly developed speech, low aspirations in the home and few set routines or clear boundaries for children's behaviour, poor attendance and a reluctance by parents to engage with the school.

Of the barriers facing the youngest children, a common problem was speech and language delay.

Ofsted chief inspector Christine Gilbert said, 'The approaches to literacy that work best are rooted in high expectations, in a systematic and consistent approach, with staff well trained to teach literacy and to monitor progress closely. Reports on achievement and progress in literacy should be produced regularly for governing bodies, looking at individual and group performance.'

 

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