This article presents a case study of changes in the literacy education landscape of England, mainly over the last two decades. It charts the progress towards a national approach to teaching systematic synthetic phonics as the first approach for teaching children to read words. This is an intervention for all.
Literacy levels often make headline news, so it is important to take a step back and look at the evidence objectively. Brooks (1997) pointed out that standards in Britain between 1948 and 1996 had been maintained. There had been no significant fall. The achievement levels of the middle to high performing pupils were comparable with the rest of the world. However, there was a con- siderable tail of underachievement that had persisted for decades. The developments reported here are mapped against national performance statistics and levels of attainment achieved by English pupils taking part in international studies. The jurisdiction of interest is specifically England because education is devolved to the individual countries of the United Kingdom.
I was surprised to see the statement below in Rhona's paper because of the findings of Martin Turner:
Brooks (1997) pointed out that standards in Britain between 1948 and 1996 had been maintained. There had been no significant fall.
IFERI committee member, Susan Godsland, has an excellent, heavily referenced site http://www.dyslexics.org.uk
where she notes this about Martin Turner's findings of reading standards in England's context:
Reading scores hit the floor in LEAs (Local Education Authorities) that took on the whole language fad with unquestioning enthusiasm; in his 1990 paper, Sponsored Reading Failure
, the late Martin Turner wrote that about 25% of pupils arriving at south London comprehensive schools regularly had a reading age below 9 years,10% below 8 years, and approximately 50% of pupils arriving at east London comprehensives had a reading age below 9 years. (Turner p10)''
''So to the other achievements of the 'real books' movement may be added that of creating dyslexia'' (Martin Turner p19)
Turner and Burkard wrote a booklet 'Reading Fever' 1996 which has several pages re. the failure of WL p7->
Open access https://www.cps.org.uk/files/reports/or ... gFever.pdf
With regard to the statement that 'standards in Britain between 1948 and 1996 had been maintained, Susan shared this comment with me:
One could say that very poor standards of reading were 'maintained' -See Joyce Morris' research in 1959:
''Dr.Joyce Morris undertook research on 'Reading in the Primary School' (1959), collecting and analysing data from seven-year-olds at a large number of Kent's primary schools. She found that reading standards in Kent at that time, ''...were above the national average. Nevertheless, 19.2 percent of the 3,022 survey seven-year-olds could be classed as ‘non-readers', and a further 26.4 percent had some mastery of reading mechanics but not sufficient for them to be independent readers of simple information and story books.''
And these poor standards deepened, especially in areas of social deprivation (see Turner & Burkard), with the introduction of whole language in the late 70s - '98 when the National Literacy Strategy was introduced.