The history of teaching reading is characterised by the description ‘The Reading Wars’. Over the last half a century, there have been thousands of scientific studies of reading and reading instruction to inform our teaching practices according to how children learn to read and how most effectively to teach them.

National inquiries in the USA, Australia and in the UK provide a steer to the teaching profession. Despite the findings of these national reviews and highly successful leading-edge practice, however, we have yet to achieve universal research-informed provision in schools where the English language is taught.

National Inquiries into the Teaching of Reading

USA: ‘National Reading Panel ‘Teaching Children to Read’  (April 2000)

Australia: ‘National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy’  (December 2005)

UK: House of Commons ‘Teaching Children to Read’  (March 2005)

UK: ‘Independent Review of the Teaching of Early Reading Final Report, Jim Rose’  (March 2006)

This is what Sir Jim Rose had to say about schools that were observed for his independent national review of teaching children to read in 2005/6:

“We spent a huge amount of time observing practice and noting the spectacular success of systematic synthetic phonics when we found it, sometimes in classes where a significant number of beginners were learning English as an additional language.”

IFERI Inform Factsheets

These factsheets summarise important information and evidence regarding all aspects of reading instruction. Quick to read, and easy to share, they provide an ideal introduction to some of the issues. Click here to see them.

IFERI Forum: Research and Recommended Reading

Our forum includes a dedicated section on research where we highlight current research, evidence and ‘must read’ documents. Click here to visit.

Kerry Hempenstall Research Summary

IFERI is grateful to Kerry Hempentstall for compiling the following collection of phonics related quotes from research. This is essential reading for anyone who would like an overview of the most important recent studies on reading and phonics. Click here to download.

MUSEC Briefings  – Macquarie University Special Education Centre, Sydney, Australia

MUSEC Briefings are provided by Macquarie University Special Education Centre as ‘a community service to inform special educators and other professionals about the evidence base for a variety of educational purposes’.

These ‘briefings’ are well-referenced and may be eye-opening for many teachers and parents. They are highly recommended as essential reading because so many practices in schools and for special needs provision nowadays are based on misunderstanding or misinformation. The worry is that when teachers and/or parents follow possible solutions which are not likely, or less likely, to be effective, they may be wasting precious time (and possibly money) and detracted from provision which would be much more suitable to address learners’ needs.