I mentioned last week that I was lucky enough to attend the launch of the UKLA’s new series of booklets, collectively entitled English, Language and Literacy 3-19 Principles and Proposals. It was inspirational, and so are the publications, which present a passionate case for enthusing children and young people, and for holistic teaching approaches that take account of how children learn and do not get bogged down in educational dogma.
Hardly surprisingly, I am particularly interested in the messages about reading. The authors categorically assert that ‘pleasure in reading is an essential prerequisite for success in reading’. They stress the need to provide children with a variety of ways to decode and get meaning from the written word, and argue convincingly against the current ‘excessive zealotry’ for synthetic phonics. They question the emphasis on reading schemes. Young children, they tell us, should be ‘absolutely surrounded by, drenched and soaked in meaningful and interesting writing’. They see literacy as a responsibility of every teacher, whatever key stage they work with, and discuss the skills needed for reading for information. They dwell on the importance of using many different types of text and media, and of keying into children’s interests and experiences, while also ensuring that they encounter diversity and inclusion in books. Productive use of the school library, they say, should be at the heart of the school’s life.
I am so impressed by all this (and no, I haven’t been paid to say so). Not all the booklets are yet in print. I’ve read the useful summary publication and Reading 3 to 7, and I’m very much looking forward to Reading 7 to 16. Other booklets are on talk, writing, grammar, drama, media and English post-16.