UK Reading Reform Foundation

The Reading Reform Foundation was founded by Mona McNee in 1989 as a non-profit making organisation dedicated to campaigning for better teaching of reading in the English language. It is supported by educators, researchers and parents who are concerned about the high functional illiteracy rates among children and adults in the United Kingdom and in the English-speaking world. Our members include people from a wide range of backgrounds with a variety of experiences. We have all been convinced by a wealth of evidence that a method known as systematic synthetic phonics is the most effective for teaching everyone to read.

RRF Governing Principles

  • to promote research-based principles of reading instruction
  • to promote the use of scientifically proven reading instruction programmes
  • to promote the use of standardised reading tests at frequent intervals
  • to provide information about effective teaching methods
  • to work to ensure that governmental departments become accountable for the effectiveness of the educational programmes they promote
  • to disseminate information through the website and message forum on an ongoing basis

Progress in England

Partly as a result of RRF campaigning, the UK government has endorsed systematic synthetic phonics and the use of cumulative, decodable reading books for the initial teaching of reading in primary schools in England. This is a huge achievement and systematic synthetic phonics is now embedded in the statutory National Curriculum. In 2012, a statutory Year One Phonics Screening Check was introduced in England to check decoding skills of six year olds.

Sadly, there is still a lot to be done. All over the world, wherever children and older students are taught to read in the English language, there is a lack of understanding about synthetic phonics. In England, many teachers continue to use ‘multi-cueing reading strategies’ which encourage the guessing of words – detracting from decoding words accurately. We believe that the way children are taught is crucial to their success in learning to read. They all need knowledge of the alphabetic code and the skills of blending sounds for reading and segmenting the spoken word for spelling – whether they learn to read easily or find it difficult. For too long now the teaching of reading has been affected by the idea that children should learn by discovery and guesswork, leading to the rejection of systematic, explicit instruction. This idea is deeply ingrained in education and still has a powerful influence on how reading is taught, despite having no scientific validity.