Today’s You and Yours programme on Radio 4 is well worth listening to for anyone interested in the debate about how best to teach reading and assess young children’s reading skills. Callers and experts were passionate in their views, some convinced that without an overwhelmingly strong focus on systematic synthetic phonics teaching children cannot succeed as readers, others equally adamant that an approach that favours phonics above all other methods is fundamentally flawed, and can in itself fail children. Several speakers mentioned the importance of comprehension and reading enjoyment, though these vital aspects of reading did not get as much of an airing as they should, and ideas about how to support them were far from unanimous. Opinions on the new phonics test, which covers non-words as well as real ones, were similarly polarised.
One thing no one disagreed on. Children from families where there is lots of talk and where books are shared from a very early age have a huge advantage when it comes to learning to read. I love this photo of family reading in action that Stockport Library Service sent me.