Evidence Check 1: Early Literacy Interventions - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by Elmhurst Primary School (LI 36)


  I have just read a memorandum submitted by the Every Child a Chance Trust to the Science and Technology Committee concerning Reading Recovery in Read Write Inc. schools. The memorandum states that:

    5.15 The experience of Every Child a Reader in the years 2005-09 has been that schools that make good use of synthetic phonics—for example, those that have been using Ruth Miskin Literacy or Phonographix systematically with whole classes for a number of years—also sign up readily for Reading Recovery. They report that while their synthetic phonics programmes work very well for the majority of children, a small minority remain non-readers. As an example, a school in Newham held up as a model of effective implementation of the Ruth Miskin approach ( including one-to-one support from a teaching assistant for children who are experiencing difficulties) had in 2008 11% of children achieving below the nationally expected Level 2 or above in Reading at the end of Key Stage 1. In a similar school in Hackney, providing Reading Recovery for its very lowest achievers in addition to effective phonics teaching for all children, only 5% failed to achieve Level 2+.

  I am the headteacher of a Newham Primary School with approximately 940 pupils. We have a turnover of 21% of children each year and 22% are eligible for free school meals. However, all our children learn to read using Read Write Inc. including children with special needs. This is because every teacher and assistant knows how to teach reading. We make it our priority.

  No child has been identified as having dyslexia since we adopted the programme in 2004. Our Special Needs Coordinator has used the diagnostic tests supplied by the local authority on several occasions and has concluded that children who have had experience of consistent Read Write Inc. teaching through the school always score highly in these tests, which leads us to the conclusion that this approach to teaching reading meets the needs of children with dyslexia type difficulties.

  Our "at risk" children are identified in Reception, or when they enter the school in later years, and receive quick and effective one-to-one tutoring. Some are tutored for one week, others, with significant needs for longer. Importantly, they receive the same teaching as they receive in their morning reading group.

  We refused the offer of a Reading Recovery teacher in 2008 for two main reasons:

    1. Reading Recovery confounds decoding and comprehension (as advised against in the Rose Report)

    2. Every teacher should use the best methods and be consistent in their approach; to put different knowledge in the hands of one person is short-sighted, even when using an effective programme.

  Do please visit our school. You will see how every child learns to read.

  If a Read Write Inc. school is using Reading Recovery, it can only be because they have not adopted the RWI one-to-one tutoring properly.

Shahed Ahmed

Head teacher

Elmhurst Primary School

November 2009

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