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What is the best way to teach child literacy?

00:46 UK time, Sunday, 14 November 2010

Too many children leave primary school unable to read or write well enough, England's chief schools inspector says. What is the best way to ensure that children can read and write when they leave primary school?

Head of Ofsted Christine Gilbert said standards of reading and writing among many 11-year-olds fell "stubbornly short" of achievable levels with one in five not at the level expected for English at age 11.

Rigorous teaching of phonics, which focuses on the sounds of letters and letter combinations, could help all pupils, of any background, she said.

What is the best way to ensure that children can read and write when they leave primary school? Are Sats the best way to measure child literacy? Should all children be able to read by the age of six?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right.... Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.

  • Comment number 2.

    Establish why they can not read and write and correct the problem. Is than not one of the reason the teachers are there? When I went to school you were not passed up into a higher class until you had reached a required level. Just passing a child up the chain because they are another year older, without achieving a required level, is doing the child NO favors.

  • Comment number 3.

    Christine, bless her undoubtedly well-meaning heart, in her concoction of a series of artificial, rigorously-defined and appropriately-delinieated levels often fails to pass the most important test of all. Real life intrudes on us from all around, and teachers face a class of children whose parents have sent them out unfed, barely clothed and very nearly unshod. If you disagree, conduct a survey of your local primary school gate, remembering to not look like a paedophile - the consequences could be dire.

    Contemplate the amount of time children spend with their parents, compared to the amount of time they spend being taught. Where does the balance lie? Who is to blame? What's it all about?

    I blame Christine Gilbert. Poor dear.

  • Comment number 4.

    If phonics were, as Christine Gilbert claims, "able to help all pupils, of any background", it would already have been universally adopted and there would not need to be any discussion about its effectiveness - phonics-based teaching methods have been used to varying degrees for over a century.

    Though it is often effective for many children, it can be useless and worse than useless for some children with dyslexia. Forbidding teachers from using any other method with such children will not help those children to read.

    As for the larger question of how to ensure that children can both read and write when they leave primary school, I think that the best solution is for them to be able to read to some extent before they enter primary school, if possible. At the very least, by that time they should be familiar with books as something to enjoy. Cultivating the practice of reading bedtime stories to children is a very good place to start.

  • Comment number 5.

    I know I'm old and a bit old fashioned but when I went to primary school most children could read and write to a certain level before they even got there. Very few children entered the school for the first time without being able to write their own name at least.
    I'm told there are even children arriving for school these days who are yet to be potty trained; what on earth is going on?

  • Comment number 6.

    The place to start is by giving the child the wish to learn. This should be done by parents or, if it is necessary, in nursery school.
    Start off by giving a child a sense that books and reading are important. Have books in the home. Start with letting your child learn to turn the pages themselves - many quite young babies enjoy that well before they understand language.
    Give them picture books by their first birthday, and talk to them about what they see in the pictures. Start with stories as soon as they start trying to talk. Always include the bedtime book in your daily routine.
    If the printed word has no place in your life, your home or your children's rooms, how are they supposed to think of reading as a natural and pleasurable act.
    Give a child a love of books before anyone tries to teach them to read, and for most children that will be what they need to make them want to read for themselves. This doesn't work for all children (dyslexics being an obvious example) but for most motivation is a crucial thing.
    Over to you, parents.

  • Comment number 7.

    Communication through language is one of the things that makes us human, not just two-legged mammals. So how can education fail to explain the importance of language? That would be sad!

  • Comment number 8.

    Compulsary adult literacy lessons would be a start. It would be a lot easier to teach literacy if all parents were literate. To quote Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr ... "Three generations of imbeciles are enough." ... though he was advocating something far more radical when he said it.

  • Comment number 9.

    Good neighborliness; The educated should take upon themselves to plan and contribute towards providing the basic education (the three Rs as we call it)to the children residing in their close vicinity or neighborhood. This move/gesture, besides giving them a feeling of doing good to the poor/deprived, will also contribute to strengthen their local bondage and to send the message of the human bondage across the society.

  • Comment number 10.

    If literacy is so bad in UK schools, how come record numbers pass GCSE's?

  • Comment number 11.

    I was taught to read and write during the 1950's by phonics and excellent teachers.
    Today, through my Grandchildren I find that many teachers cant speak English, never mind read and write it !!

  • Comment number 12.

    "
    Head of Ofsted Christine Gilbert said standards of reading and writing among many 11-year-olds fell "stubbornly short" of achievable levels with one in five not at the level expected for English at age 11.
    "

    A sad fact that shows once again our education system is failing badly. But then Education system in the UK was been falling apart since the mid 70's and has been for some time now, a national embarrassment. Slogans such as "Things can only get better" and "Education, Education, Education" are meaningless unless the root of the problems are understand and then addressed.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    Simplicity, patience, repetition and relevance.

    Young children mimic people around them. My family were all readers and, as the youngest, I soon caught up. Having young own choices of book is a moment to savour when you join a library.

    There must be a healthy balance between using experience and imagination, encouraging a child to be curious and want to learn.

  • Comment number 15.

    "
    14. At 06:25am on 14 Nov 2010, holly_bush_berry wrote:
    "

    Spot on.

  • Comment number 16.

    "
    10. At 05:45am on 14 Nov 2010, David Goddard wrote:

    If literacy is so bad in UK schools, how come record numbers pass GCSE's?
    "

    Have you seen the questions? Apart from being pretty easy you now have so called "study aids" which are no more than cheat sheets. The exams are little more than memory tests, where actually understanding the questions is not a requirement in order to pass.

    This is why so many companies have no interest in exam passes in secondary education, even Tertiary education is a joke these days.

  • Comment number 17.

    Not testing children every ten minutes so that children learn literacy and not how to take tests. SATS by their own evidence aren't working so why stick with them?

    But I also totally agree with the person who said that the parents are key, and that if they aren't encouraged then their children have far fewer opportunities to learn at home. Teachers aren't the only people involved in education.

    Also people complaining about literacy on these sites should either learn to proof read, or deal with their own literacy issues.

  • Comment number 18.

    Don't know about "phonics", but I was taught to read at primary school by the now discontinued ITA method. Coupled with parents who encouraged me, read to me nightly, and got me to read to them, this instilled in me a lifelong love of books and reading (to the extant my home now contains about 3000!) Although ITA improved the rate at which a child learned to read and write drastically (over twice as quickly, according to a study), it was found that many children had difficulty switching back to normal spelling. I don't recall any such difficulty, as my class was taught the "real" spelling simultaneously, rather than having it thrust on us as a surprise later on. It was just explained to us that we were using a "special" language for children, and that we would use the "real" spelling when we were older. Worked fine for us, and I can remember our own desire to appear more 'grown-up' encouraged us to move on rapidly. But parents' attitude is crucial: my own son could read long before he attended primary school.

  • Comment number 19.

    Try getting national Newspapers to write 'it's wot the sun did'!

  • Comment number 20.

    No child in our school moved onto the next year unless they met the minimum requirements in reading, writing and maths. Those who needed help over a period of time were placed in a separate stream so they could get the extra support they required.

    In this area there is a duty of the parents to encourage reading and writing at home and an interest in maths.

  • Comment number 21.

    I have a confession to all you educational theorists contributing to this HYS. I attended state schools before the likes of you, and the politicians, ruined education with your trendy ideas and political whims respectively. Not one of my teachers came to school dressed as if they had just left the circus ring, nor did any of them speak estuary English, or attempt to emulate the way it is spoken by some immigrants, just to be "cool". So the first thing I would do is sack any teacher that cannot, or will not, articulate and pronounce our language properly. And before you Northerners, "kick off", let me say you are better speakers than many Southerners; my criticism is nothing to do with dialect. (But you do tend to mix up "Those and Them"). So let us return to good basic fundamental grammar, articulation and pronunciation. And for the poorly educated out there, "Cool" relates to temperature and "Went" relates to a past destination. "Good" and "Said" are what you are looking for. And remember, no matter what degree you may have obtained, you are not employable if you cannot communicate effectively. It is far far better to be a snob than a yob. Init ?

  • Comment number 22.

    Most of the children who leave primary school below level 4 (the "expected" level) are at level 3, which is still quite competent. They CAN read and write.

    They are not statistics, they are all individuals.

    Lets stop calling them failures at every opportunity.

    PS as a regular reader of HYS, I can say that many users are not at level 4 either. "He who is without sin........."

  • Comment number 23.

    Here we go again, I expect we'll have a barrage of comments stating that our kids are all little Einsteins and that the inspectors have it wrong again. However the simple facts are plain to see, we've had Universities complaining for years that it's not thier job to teach students to read and write, their alarm bells have been ringing for years, and it further begs the question why are there students on degree courses who don't have basic numeracy and literacy? It has nothing to do with what degree you're taking, these are absolute basics that we shouldn't leave primary school without and yet here these kids are at university.

    Instead of the left wing airy fairy mob telling us that children need to be praised at every opportunity isn't it about time that someone got a grip on reality and actually got down to some teaching instead of using kids as some sort of PC experiment, because it's not working, at all.


    The standard of literacy in this country is appalling, something has gone drastically wrong between my generation leaving primary school and the present. We used to have regular reading, spelling and arithmetic tests and everyone without exception left primary school being able to read and write. Something needs to be done and quickly and someone needs to get hold of silly teaching ideas and start teaching the basics instead.

  • Comment number 24.

    Speedthrills comment 21, that hits the nail on the head. I know a few people who have to recruit graduates to positions within large companies, the number of UK graduates has been decreasingly steadily for the last 10 years and last year one didn't recruit any graduates. the reason for this are the dreadful CV's and application forms, and poor presentation, one this year came to interview in shorts, and all but one didn't shake hands on entering the interview room. This all boils down to your observation of trying to be a bit gangsta to be cool.

    Here's the thing kids, employers do not want people who cannot communicate effectively and clearly, that is both spoken and written communication, text speak is not acceptable, and calling clients, mate, pal, bro etc is not the way forward.

    The same advice also applies to the teaching community.

  • Comment number 25.

    5. At 02:30am on 14 Nov 2010, devilzadvacate1 wrote:
    I know I'm old and a bit old fashioned but when I went to primary school most children could read and write to a certain level before they even got there. Very few children entered the school for the first time without being able to write their own name at least.
    I'm told there are even children arriving for school these days who are yet to be potty trained; what on earth is going on?
    ==========================================================================
    Sadly this is the way things are today. Children have little discipline at home or school which is partly to blame on both parents and schools but mainly on these so called do gooders who do much more harm than good. Kids grow up with a selfish attitude....and it'll get worse rather than better and does not pertain to only the UK.
    Incidently, I cannot recall anyone leaving school who could not read and write and certainly I agree that kids were taught to read and write at home before starting primary school. Obviously in this case parents are 100% to blame.

  • Comment number 26.

    Does anybody know why children in most other European countries don't have similar difficulties reading/writing like here in the UK?
    Perhaps we should not just look and see what is happening here, we might even be able to learn something from the French and Germans!

  • Comment number 27.

    If young children are to regain what in my early days was a natural interest in words that goes on to prepare them for successful reading and writing then they must be given the chance to enjoy the process.

    The infant brain is tuned into its mothers voice and it listens to this above all else (if possible). Thus the value of a mother reading to her child, regardless of whether at the time the child can understand all of the words, cannot be over-emphasised.

  • Comment number 28.

    16. At 06:39am on 14 Nov 2010, Kuradi Vitukari wrote:
    If literacy is so bad in UK schools, how come record numbers pass GCSE's?
    "
    =========================================================================
    The pass level for GCSE's if far lower now than years ago (fact). This has been continuously lowered by governments to fool people into believing their educational policies are working. All it does is give the kids fake qualifications.

  • Comment number 29.

    #23 solomondogs says "[literacy and numeracy] are absolute basics"

    Yes they are, and without a proper foundation you are not going to build a child who can grow, achieve their real potential and feel good about doing it. It is all about steps, and, as someone stated earlier, we must be good at picking out and rectifying faulty steps.

    This is not about proving one child is growing faster or better than another child; it is about ensuring every child has the same solid foundation as any other child. Once solid foundation is in place a child can, and will, learn at their own pace.

  • Comment number 30.

    The best way to ensure that children can read and write when they leave primary school, is to ensure that they can read and write before they attend primary school.
    My mum taught me to read and write before I went to any school.
    Parental responsibility is becoming a thing of the past as mothers choose income over the well being of their children. It is not the job of schools to teach such fundamentals as reading and writing. Some parents seem to think that their children are the responsibility of the state from the moment they are born until they finally obtain full-time employment.

  • Comment number 31.

    There's too much mucking about by educational know all theorists.
    The old fashion way is best.My parents read to me and made me practise at home. I did the same with my kids and they could all read and write well at an early age.
    My sister suffered at the hands of stupid experiments by these educationalists who think they know best. Luckily for her, our parents stepped in and helped her.

  • Comment number 32.

    20% of children nationally do not reach level 4 in literacy.
    Over 30% of children start school at 4 without developed speech
    Parents do not speak to their children enough
    Parents do not instill discipline
    Parents expect TV to occupy their children
    Parents expect other people to educate and engage their children.
    Society blames the police and schools for a lack of discipline
    Society blames the schools for not educating the children
    No one blames society for not taking responsibility for its children, respecting others and valuing education, not teachers, but education. Until this is reversed it does not matter what you do, without parental involvement from 0-24 the system will fail.
    An it was never any better in the past for primary, levels of literacy are higher now than at any time....Please take off you rose tinted specs....

  • Comment number 33.

    Make them read.
    Anything will do for starters.

    Nowadays kids don't really have things like comics oor willie books tin-tin etc
    This will make it a lot harder to maintain their interest.

    Famous five and secret seven books are the easiest start for youngsters, you must get those wee brains elucidating and manipulating words as soon as possible.
    Words are pictures which the brain has to remember, like faces.

    Aoccdrnig to rscheearch out of Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod apeapr. The olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a tatol mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe

  • Comment number 34.

    The problem with this latest pronouncement by OFSTED is that there is so much myth and manipulation and with slight cynicism I hear the ground being prepared for another government dictat to schools. If one in eleven are not reaching a certain standard then 4 out of 5 are. So it is a myth that we need to give all children exactly the same medicine and manipulation to use the ruler of OFSTED to once more rap the knuckles of school. So many contradictory statistics re: the efficace or otherwise of schools and then hey presto! A new curriculum prescription to cure the ailing state of childhood. Once more all children and all teachers are going to get the same dose regardless of need. Maybe the reasons why the 1 in 5 who do not reach a required standard (a normal statistical bell curve in any measure) are not there because of poor teaching but because a) not all will at any one time, it is statistically impossible, b) there are other factors at play which mean school and reading and the curriculum as it is does not offer any meaning to those children. It is also worth noting the constant picture that comes from countries and systems that do not teach children systematically to read until they are turned six but focus on communication WITH not AT children. Thus by the age of six or seven there is already a mystery which the key of literacy can unlock. But no that is too radical, far easier to blame poor teaching and prescribe. Does that 1 in 5 not ring a bell like the 15, 000 poor teachers of Mr Woodhead's day. The use of spurious statistics by the head of OFSTED, without informed research (eg the Cambridge Review of Primary Education) shows how far from being a rigorous, independent and serviceable organisation OFSTED is. Comments like this look very much like OFSTED trying to preserve a role for itself, not offering a wider, more thoughtful perspective on the real themes. OFSTED is the manipulative arm of government myth, and once more it is twisting our arm up our back using the griplock of publicity and headlines. Like the fools we have become we believe their promises whispered hotly in our ears whilst in an arm lock are meant for our benefit and will do us good in the long run. They are not. More than 8 out of 10 do not need any new medicine, where else but in education would a doctor get away with prescribing those healthy 8 the same medicine as the rest, and sending the police around to makes sure it is being taken at the same time and in the same way each day.

  • Comment number 35.

    After reading the comments on this subject I find myself at odds with most of them, I left school at 16 baerly able to read and write, started my own buisness at 21, was sucessfull and now my children (who struggle to read and write) continue to run the business and are also sucessfull. The people I have problems with in life normally have been to university, struggle to make a constructive or sensible conversation, have no common sence, but have very good memory retention. So does it really matter, providing teachers do thier best to get the best out of thier pupels. (sorry about spelling and why isn't there a spell checker?)

  • Comment number 36.

    The best teaching is well before school age, with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and possibly older siblings sitting down and reading with children.

    The books were for children, but they were always grammatically correct, and the words (as with Beatrix Potter) were sometimes rather advanced.

    I must have been very lucky, I suppose. Clearly I wasn't born able to read but I cannot remember a time when letters of the alphabet meant nothing to me at all.

    Apart from prospects for work, if someone is unable to lose themselves in a good book, I think that is terribly sad.



  • Comment number 37.

    The best way to teach child literacy is to only employ teachers who are able to spell and are grammatically adept. Graduates with inadequate literacy skills should not be awarded degrees - children should have their errors corrected and not ignored by their educators.

  • Comment number 38.

    32. At 08:40am on 14 Nov 2010, thrupp wrote:
    20% of children nationally do not reach level 4 in literacy.
    Over 30% of children start school at 4 without developed speech
    Parents do not speak to their children enough
    Parents do not instill discipline
    Parents expect TV to occupy their children
    Parents expect other people to educate and engage their children.
    Society blames the police and schools for a lack of discipline
    Society blames the schools for not educating the children
    No one blames society for not taking responsibility for its children, respecting others and valuing education, not teachers, but education. Until this is reversed it does not matter what you do, without parental involvement from 0-24 the system will fail.
    An it was never any better in the past for primary, levels of literacy are higher now than at any time....Please take off you rose tinted specs....



    Is the issue coming to the fore because more jobs require a higher level of literacy? Just a thought.

  • Comment number 39.

    Copy the education of Cameron et-al, which was judged good enough to let them "lead" a country. What was that? Money????
    Post 33 - spot on.

  • Comment number 40.

    23. At 08:04am on 14 Nov 2010, solomondogs wrote:

    Here we go again, I expect we'll have a barrage of comments stating that our kids are all little Einsteins and that the inspectors have it wrong again. However the simple facts are plain to see, we've had Universities complaining for years that it's not thier job to teach students to read and write, their alarm bells have been ringing for years, and it further begs the question why are there students on degree courses who don't have basic numeracy and literacy? It has nothing to do with what degree you're taking, these are absolute basics that we shouldn't leave primary school without and yet here these kids are at university.

    Instead of the left wing airy fairy mob telling us that children need to be praised at every opportunity isn't it about time that someone got a grip on reality and actually got down to some teaching instead of using kids as some sort of PC experiment, because it's not working, at all.


    The standard of literacy in this country is appalling, something has gone drastically wrong between my generation leaving primary school and the present. We used to have regular reading, spelling and arithmetic tests and everyone without exception left primary school being able to read and write. Something needs to be done and quickly and someone needs to get hold of silly teaching ideas and start teaching the basics instead.
    =========================================================================
    1m% correct...whooops....100% correct

  • Comment number 41.

    At 08:18am on 14 Nov 2010, emcoluk wrote:
    16. At 06:39am on 14 Nov 2010, Kuradi Vitukari wrote:
    If literacy is so bad in UK schools, how come record numbers pass GCSE's?

    -------------------------------------------------------------
    Because the exams are easier.You only have to look at the exams I took in the 50's and 60's. There's absolutely no comparison.

  • Comment number 42.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 43.

    I am a teacher of 7 year olds in a prep school. I have children who are able to sound out words but on questioning will have no idea what they mean. Phonics is only the technical part of reading. In my school reading for understanding using whole books rather than just sections of texts is encouraged with 40 minutes per day being set aside to become engrossed in a story followed by old fashioned comprehension both discussion and writing. The answer is to foster an enjoyment of stories so children want to read more both in school and at home.

  • Comment number 44.

    I was always under the impression that the job of the teachers was to make sure that all their pupils could read and write
    If NOT then they where moved on to a Special School for backward children
    OR given extra tutoring
    This does NOT seem to apply today (WHY)
    And of course there is the LACK of disapline
    This is all down to the Goverments and again these are the ones that are BLEETING as usual

  • Comment number 45.

    As far as the upper echelons of the teaching profession are concerned, plain old shepherds pie has become sautéed steak tartar and pommes purées.

    Making simple things look complicated and intelligent means you can justify your huge salary via a particular style and brand of teaching.

    We should stop catering to the egos of the higher echelons of the teaching profession and start focussing on the meat and potatoes.

    Reading is only easy if you make it easy.

  • Comment number 46.

    Are we not missing the blatantly obvious point? With the best will in the world, we'll never get all six-year-olds to read. In our technologically advanced age, why do we still burden struggling readers with labels and laborious, energy draining teaching methods? Yes, reading is an important skill, but it is no longer the be-all and end-all of education. Text reading and word-recognition software exist and could be used very effectively in the classroom and anywhere else where reading is required. The time spent correcting poor reading, could be used to develop other important cognitive skills. Instead of "fixing" the child who cannot read, allow reading to evolve with the times and give poor readers the technological assistance that would make such a difference to their lives!

  • Comment number 47.

    My son is dyslexic with other learning difficulties. The school point blank refused to acknowledge this. I pointed out his difficulties when he was five. They told me he couldn't be tested until he was seven. How could I see this and they didn't? I am not qualified in that area at all, it was just very, very obvious. But then, we sat and read with him, and paid attention to what was going on with him.

    I explained that phonics wasn't working for him, they didn't listen. When he was seven there was no test, no acknowledgement of what was going on despite the fact he couldn't read or write. In the end (at 8yrs old) I had to pay a private Educational Psychologist almost £500 to confirm my suspicions. The hospital recommended tinted glasses, so I paid for them too, (they work) and the Occupational Therapist had to come up and tell the school to get their act together, and confirmed his dyslexia was significant. This is a school which Ofsted says is outstanding. Without my being a pushy and educated stay at home mum, my son would leave school with no literacy at all. Believe me, it's been a struggle.

  • Comment number 48.

    Talking to a teacher recently based near Newcastle upon Tyne he told me that many of the children fail to learn to read properly and a reading age of 5 isn't uncommon among those aged 14.

    One young lad of 14 when asked what he wanted to do when he left school replied, "Nothing, Sir". When pressed further he stated that by the time he was married with 3 children he would have a higher income than the teacher would - and, unless IDS's welfare reforms are implemented and strictly followed, he will probably be right.

    There is no reason for some children to aspire to work at at school, they get no support or assistance from their parents, many of whom are probably no better educated than their offspring - and who pass on their lifestyle choices to their children. They prepare them for life on the dole. In a city where in places there are FIVE generations of unemployed it's easy to see that working is habitual if not inbred. I see these families being given all sorts of support but never any improvement...they might make the right noises but as long as they don't have to work/study/whatever - they won't. They know how to make the right noises without ever changing anything.

    And it doesn't matter whether they do or not. And as one recently said after the intended changes came out, "I'm not worried, they won't let me starve".



  • Comment number 49.

    What this tells us all is that the standard of teaching is at best poor.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.


    I'm a secondary schoool teacher in what I would class as one of the best schools I've ever been in. I still have half of my ICT class not able to spell 'allowed'. I'm all for inspections of schools because they mean the school has to raise the standards as much as they can, but I don't believe that OFSTEAD has any right to tell teachers how to teach. They can tell us what they're doing isn't working, but as for what would work, every learner, every class, every school is different. Applying standardised teaching styles means that basically children should be taught by robots, and that really isn't a good idea.

    I don't like people blaming teachers, and literacy isn't my speciality any longer, but when I was younger my parents taught me, and my very early school taught me. Teachers can only do so much as to put resources in front of them, and teach them as much as they can. If a student has a 50% attendance rate, and some do, there is a limited amount a teacher can do. A change of teaching styles really doesn't help.

    There have been loads of new teaching styles introduced in the last few years, and some are great and some (I feel) are really quite flawed, yet we are expected to use them. Let the teacher teach and the governments suggest ways to improve. Ultimately it is the head teacher's choice or the head of faculties choice on how to teach their children.

  • Comment number 52.

    As a primary school teacher there is so much I am tempted to say here. In many respects, the preceding comments make good and valid points, particularly in relation to the importance of parental input. The development of any child is a partnership between school and parents.

    Schools are not, or should not be, factories churning out a production line of identical products. Schooling and education (they are not the same nor are they exclusive of each other)is about giving children the tools they need to learn and develop as individuals. Whilst it is desirable and essential that children have levels of literacy skills which equip them to access the world into which they will live, this will surely be different for each and every individual.

    Reading and writing - learning of any kind really - are only useful if they can be seen to be helpful, beneficial and purposeful. As for teaching methods, in my opinion it is never a good idea to say that there is only one way of doing anything. Human beings are not programmable i.e. you may put in the same data but you won't get the same outcome. In my experience, phonics is a useful and highly productive tool in the early stages of reading BUT it does not suit all and gets increasingly confusing (how DO you teach/learn that one uses 'ow' in crowd but 'ou' in loud?)

    Reading isn't just about decoding words, it's about inference, comprehension and ENJOYMENT. Likewise writing is not just about spelling but about expression, communication and CREATIVITY. People CAN succeed without having high levels of literacy, numeracy or ability in any other area. What is important is that they BELIEVE that they can succeed and that is as significant a part of the role of schools as any other.

  • Comment number 53.

    If a child cannot read by the time he or she leaves primary school it is definitely the parents' fault. My daughter could read newspapers BEFORE she started primary school. Then when she started primary school she had to go back to spelling baby words "cat", "dog" etc.

    I gave her daily spelling tests before age 3 and she could spell words like "campaign" - knowing the "g" was silent. It was instinctive.

    The fact is, primary school is a total waste of time. Children go there to learn how to play - not work. School should start at age 11 and before that everything can be taught by the parents.

    Too many parents have the attitude "Let the school teach my children - it's nothing to do with me" and leave them crawling about on the floor like the above mentioned cat or dog.

  • Comment number 54.

    Christine Gilbert is the Head of and organisation that established itself as a self sustaining bureaucracy and grew into source of irritation, frustration and stress to teachers at all stages of compulsory educaction. Many very competent and dedicated teachers left the profession because of the activities of Ofsted. This powerful network has always been obsessed with testing and constant intrusive inspections that fly in the face of well validated educational research, which confirms that children do not all progress at the same rate and in neat and tidy age groups. Under Labour, Ofsted and numerous University Education units bombarded a series of itinerant Education Ministers with their annual crop of reports and Masters' degree theses. Reid, Kelly, Balls and short term ministers who couldn't wait to finish their stint in Education and were in awe of academics...implemented all the findings without question; providing the inspectorate with ever more scope for interfering in schools and sustaining their own careers.

  • Comment number 55.

    My Mother taught me to read before I went to school and it was an activity we continued together at home through my primary years - reading the books on the school reading list and some additional books once we had got through the school ones. I also started school able to sit quietly and pay attention and knowing throughout my school years that if I was ever in trouble at school I would be in trouble at home too.
    The difference is now that many parents, probably the ones who don't bother to feed their children before sending them to school, think that all responsibility for their children's development and survival rests with the authorities. A sad and pathetic state of affairs but one that is increasingly common in the UK.

  • Comment number 56.

    I thought this one had been nailed. It all seemed to work fine for a 100 years and more.Worked great when I was educated. Almost everyone got to read and write, but the "have to express themselves as individuals" New wonderful "modern" methods untried beyond theory. " never mind dears its not quite right but we know what you mean". If you don't want to read sweety you go in the corner and play a computer game. Better still lets go on an adventure trip,much more fun than boring old reading & writing. So long as we are having fun, what?
    Small wonder literacy is on the floor, and will fall further despite targets, monitors and reports.

  • Comment number 57.

    I could read and write before I went to school. My mum taught me.

    That's how to do it.

  • Comment number 58.

    44. At 09:09am on 14 Nov 2010, Alan Hammond wrote:

    I was always under the impression that the job of the teachers was to make sure that all their pupils could read and write
    If NOT then they where moved on to a Special School for backward children
    OR given extra tutoring
    This does NOT seem to apply today (WHY)
    And of course there is the LACK of disapline
    This is all down to the Goverments and again these are the ones that are BLEETING as usual
    -------------------------------------------------------
    You really shouldn't make spelling mistakes on this HYS - or is it the teachers' fault?

  • Comment number 59.

    The early-learning ability of children rests with the parents, not with the teachers. Both our two children, now 30+ years old, could read and write before they went to primary school. Why? Because their mother would sit them near-by when she was doing the housework, and talk to them like normal human beings. I feel that many parents abdicate their role in nurturing their children, for watching daytime TV or playing online Bingo! The parent is the first 'teacher' that the child is exposed to, and will grow in the image of what they see. As is said "like father/mother, like son/daugther".

  • Comment number 60.

    Fisrt, teech there perents reeding, riting and rithmitics, innit?

  • Comment number 61.

    The best way is for parents to read books - that's a written work or composition that has been published (printed on pages bound together) for those that don't know - to their children from a very early age. Read stories to them at bedtime, and have them own their own basic books ("Janet and John" from my generation) that they can identify letters and parents can help associate with sounds. Then when they are at primary school help them read the books they bring home from school, moving to more advanced works as they grow older. Do this, rather than have them watch TV or play video games in their rooms on their own and by 7 they should be reading pretty well. Once they can read it becomes much. much easier to learn other subjects.

    Why isn't this done anymore: it's too hard for parents who expect instant gratification and "silver bullet" solutions and won't take responsibility for their children's upbringing. They expect someone else to solve their problems for them.

  • Comment number 62.

    It's been very interesting reading all your comments. It's all well and good moaning about the poor state of education but why don't you help these 'struggling' children by volunteering some of your free time to promote reading in schools? I am a Primary School Teacher and I see first hand the lack of interest the children have in books because they have none at home and their parents are not interested in books. Teaching a child to read is not an easy task. Phonics is not the main solution; it is a tool to support reading. There are various tried and tested methods. You need time and patience (something not many of our parents have), you cannot force a child to read or you could put them off for life!

    As mentioned earlier, pop into your local school and volunteer your time, you will get a true picture of what the education system is really like. Please do not listen to government officials who spout statistics that they do not even understand. They have never spent any time in a school to find out what social issues amongst others that we have to deal with in order to teach children. Your experiences are extremely valuable, so please share them with the children. Every child that sets foot into my classroom is an individual and I look at each child and try to work out what their barriers to learning are. I find it frustrating when we get the blame for not doing our jobs correctly. We spend a small amount of time with children and are expected to reach every milestone. It is not possible. We cannot do it without support from parents, the community and the government.

    Mr Gove wants to introduce another yet another reading test, what he forgot to mention is that for teachers to administer the test, we will need to give the class holding activities whilst we take each child out individually to test them. The time taken to prepare the test and then administer it, is time taken from teaching children. Teachers know that our children are struggling and we are doing our very best, believe me we are.

    Offer us your support, not your condemnation. Volunteer at your local school tomorrow morning. That's how I got into teaching. You will be doing something worthwhile. Wishing you all a relaxed Sunday. :)

  • Comment number 63.

    5. At 02:30am on 14 Nov 2010, devilzadvacate1 wrote:
    I know I'm old and a bit old fashioned but when I went to primary school most children could read and write to a certain level before they even got there. Very few children entered the school for the first time without being able to write their own name at least.
    I'm told there are even children arriving for school these days who are yet to be potty trained; what on earth is going on?


    It's the usual laziness and desire for quick fixes. There's now a market for "pull up" disposable nappies for children upto primary age because parents won't potty train them at age two.

  • Comment number 64.

    I see many of the comments are directed towards the parents but I believe the changes in the National Curriculum at KS1 play a huge part. The subject range is so broad now for 4-7 year old that less time is spent on literacy and numeracy within schools and much of the work is being handed out as homework - something which I did not have at primary school. Although it is important to have a broad range of subjects I do not believe they are necessary at such a young age and can easily be introduced during KS2 after the basics in numeracy and literacy are accomplished. We (my son) have daily reading assignments, times tables, additional homework and weekly spelling tests to practice at home, which takes us between an 1-1.5 hours a day. I find this extreme for a 6 year old and find myself asking why there is so much pressure on parents to provide teaching the basics when at school my son has activity days , fundraising events, family assemblies, day trips. Sometimes there seems to be more play at school than at home. Our school also made a point that they prefer the children to come in without prior reading knowledge so that the children can conform to one way of teaching. I then find myself a year later having to do much of this at home without any teaching experience just my own ability, which does not make me a good teacher, far from it. I do not believe this is a fault of the school as they are following National Curriculum Guidelines but I frequently have a 6 year old boy crying over books and homework, worrying about getting just 2 spellings wrong - this seems extreme to me. I am also told by very experience teachers that many boys in particular grasp reading later, some not until 8 years and they are mistakenly being classified as special needs or dyslexic. Why are 6 year olds being assessed in this way when in the continent they do not start school until 7 years and from next year the age will move forward in the UK, my daughter will be just 4 years old. SATs at age 6 put schools under pressure, which in turn gets passed on to the children and between this and their need to be raising money constantly, I find the KS1 curriculum to be lacking time in the fundamentals and too generalised for this particular age group. It is very easy to blame parents for everything but as one who puts in hours of effort, I feel disappointed that there seems to be a drop in the quantity of teaching the basics at KS1. I think schools should provide this teaching (as their purpose) and parents are there for support, encouragement and behavioural guidance, otherwise we all may as well start teacher training and home school our children - not a practical solution of course.

  • Comment number 65.

    It would help not to blame system A or system B for poor literacy.

    The whole issue begins PRE-school and the only way to ensure it is for parents to apply TIME to their children. My own Daughters and my grandchildren were able to read, write and count before going to school at all. (and no, they are not special in this regard...just had time and effort and love applied to them)

    As with most child related things it is the parents we should be looking at, not the education system alone

  • Comment number 66.

    Inevitable consequence of 40 years of left wing liberalism in the classroom with those same socialists bleating that things are not working.

    Get back to the "R"'s....although its beyond these peoples blinkered views.

  • Comment number 67.

    Two working Mums at work complain about the amount of homework their kids bring home aged around 5-7. There is reading, writing and test work for several hours a night for one Mum who has two kids.

    This can't be right. Why can't this be done at school by teachers and their myriad assistants during the day, and not at night when the kids are as tired as their parents?

  • Comment number 68.

    As a recently retired Primary School Headteacher, I have become convinced that one of the key features that contributes to failure at school is our system's obsession with chronological age. This is particularly true of the Reception age. This is the key time to welcome the children into school and discover the child's strengths and needs. Some children are very ready to whizz through this R year and on into Year 1 , but a significant number simply aren't ready in July to leave this environment, and they haven't yet got a handle on all the crucial learning experiences and activities offered there. We need to use the R year as a 'holding area' with children only moving on to the next 'Year' when they are ready. To send children on when they are not ready means that they are failing from almost the first moment. To enable this, we need to decouple all subsequent classes, moves to other phases, tests and exams from their hard links to chronological age. If you can pass GCSE maths, who cares how old you are when you do it?

  • Comment number 69.

    #65 tezza777

    I agree, although I do not think it stops at parents.

    You quickly learn, as a child, that most adults speak to you 'differently' when you behave appropriately and articulate as carefully as you are able. There is a dignity and respect outside the home and school making you feel a real part of the "grown up world".

    Those who act know how to use voice and behaviour in very practical ways in a variety of situations suggesting understanding of language, observations of peers and elders are important learning tools in growing up and developing.

    Do many children experience live performing arts? Has our electronic world killed off the many ancient and painlessly tried and tested literacy and numeracy tools?

  • Comment number 70.

    Personally, I don't remember much about my infant and primary education, or the process of being taught how to read or write. There were no books at home and my parents were often absent.

    However, my best friend's mother, who lived in the next road, took us to the library after school - especially during the winter! It was during those visits that I began to absorb words and how to spell by basic word recognition. So, now if a word looks incorrect - it's spelt incorrectly.
    Yes, my grammar is imperfect!

    Sadly, very young children today have a constant stream of marketing distractions. They are targetted as the ultimate consumers, tossed around on a tidal wave of manipulative advertising - as are their parents too.

    The current school environment has to contend with the reducing attention span created by the above. However, I am fortunate to have two grown-up children with good careers, but it took a lot of exhausting parental input and attention to their progress in all areas.

    As a child, I was lucky that a best friend's mother involved me, and took me under her wing. She will never know how much she improved my education, and more importantly, taught me how to be a parent.

  • Comment number 71.

    I'm from a rural working class background (I differentiate this from urban working class). Both of my parents left school with no qualifications at age 14.

    Myself and my brother were taught some basic reading, writing and counting, before and while at primary school. In fact my brothers advanced reading skills at nursery, seemed to cause some resentment towards my Mother, from the snobby middle class types in the village.

    There is absolutely no reason why the majority of children cannot learn these skills, at school and with help from their parents, at home.

    It makes me wonder this so called failure of children to read and write by age 11 is actually real.

    If it is real then the government and the educational establishment should hang their heads in shame.

    I see the current government again is meddling with education.


  • Comment number 72.

    Smaller class sizes would help identify quickly the ones who are not reading. It's no good waiting until the children are older to say this child is not a competent reader. Teachers should be accountable in that it's there job to teach the necessary skills to the child and if they are doing there job properly it should not be hard to identify what is going wrong with some kids. Parents too play such a big part, but its the schools that get the blame, which is in some way unfair.

  • Comment number 73.

    68. At 10:14am on 14 Nov 2010, pete-suffolk wrote:

    .............If you can pass GCSE maths, who cares how old you are when you do it?

    What a conclusion from a teacher ! Er, its their prospective employers pete, Next we'll have the trendy, "and we'll have to hold the bright kids back so they can all pass GCSE Maths together - after all we don't want to stigmatise a child because he or she is a failure - do we ?"

    For goodness sake, teachers should complete a year in industry and commerce as part of their training so that they can produce the right product for employers or further education. Teachers are so out of touch in their own little worlds. I remember when society had respect for the teaching profession, they can get it back but the report this term is; "Could do a lot better if he or she applied themselves to the assignment". See me !

  • Comment number 74.

    I urge everyone to read comment 34, posted by a very astute 'yohan'. It doesn't matter what everyone's 'opinion' is; the whole issue centres on statistics. When levels were introduced with the dawn of the National Curriculum, the holy grail of level four was meant to be an average, not an expectation for every pupil. Mathematically there should be a distribution - some pupils will be above, some below. This is fact, not speculation. It is frightening that so called 'ministers' and heads of OFSTED do not understand this. It makes me wonder who actually needs to be taken to task. Please now read comment number 62.

  • Comment number 75.

    How do you teach parents what their responsibilities are to their kids?
    But then governments continually change the way the kids are taught...it's the usual case "if it's not broken...then fix it"

  • Comment number 76.

    Everybody who goes through the education system should be able to read and write as a bare minimum.

    The fact that many children are leaving unable to string a sentence together shows we are slowly decending into a third world country.

  • Comment number 77.

    Christine Blower said: "If phonics was truly the magic solution to literacy then it would have become a systematic part of teaching many years ago."

    It was and it led to a far higher level of literacy than the trendy left wing dogma that we have been saddled with.

  • Comment number 78.

    23. At 08:04am on 14 Nov 2010, solomondogs wrote:

    Here we go again, I expect we'll have a barrage of comments stating that our kids are all little Einsteins and that the inspectors have it wrong again. However the simple facts are plain to see, we've had Universities complaining for years that it's not thier job to teach students to read and write, their alarm bells have been ringing for years, and it further begs the question why are there students on degree courses who don't have basic numeracy and literacy? It has nothing to do with what degree you're taking, these are absolute basics that we shouldn't leave primary school without and yet here these kids are at university.

    =========================

    Yes and no. The subjects where remedial maths needs to be taught at uni are most often Physics and Engineering. This is partly because A level maths nowadays is such a poor standard that it doesn't always guarantee the student will be able to do the calculus involved, and partly because the universities often need to accept students without A level maths onto these courses, just to fill the class. (so they need to run extra maths classes to get students up to speed)

    There's a reason for that, of course - A level maths is already one of, if not THE most difficult A levels (hello media studies, etc), so few take it. If A level maths were brought up to the standard needed for Quantum Mechanics, even fewer would take it. So that really wouldn't help matters. Instead, A level difficulty needs to be increased across the board.

    Anyway, back to the question - yes it's down to the parents - the kids should know their ABC's long before they arrive at the school gate. (unless they've got dyslexia, or something). It's the school's job to educate, but they won't get far unless the child has half-way decent parents.

  • Comment number 79.

    Simple - don't send them to school in the first place. The standards are just awful.

  • Comment number 80.

    I suppose the simple answer is to 'teach them to read and write'. Is that not the reason we have schools and teachers, and OFSTED? Surely the students (at that age) can't be the problem. Is this a new problem, occurring in the past 5 years? 10 years? 20? Or has it always been a problem? If the problem started at a definable point in time what occurred at that time to cause the downturn?

    Surely our education system is well enough equipped and funded to teach children such a basic skill? It doesn't require computers or access to the web, it doesn't need the most current tools and technology or even the latest books and teaching aids. Or does it? Who is failing these children, the government? The school system? The teachers?

    It is difficult to believe that 20% of todays children cannot learn to read if they have the proper education.

  • Comment number 81.

    "... how DO you teach/learn that one uses 'ow' in crowd but 'ou' in loud?"

    It's quite simple, really. You teach them that both 'ou' and 'ow' are different ways of spelling the /ow/ sound. (You can add 'ough' as in bough in there too.)

    Trust me, it works.

  • Comment number 82.

    "74. At 10:44am on 14 Nov 2010, theanomalist wrote:

    I urge everyone to read comment 34, posted by a very astute 'yohan'.... Please now read comment number 62."

    I have, and while it makes some very good points, do you not think that 1 in 5 children not meeting the required standard, is still a lot of children?

    Admittedly I do not know what the required standard is, or if a child below that standard is still quite capable, and I agree that there will always be a percentage children who will fall below a standard.

  • Comment number 83.

    From personal experience as a child with some reading difficulties it is vital to get plenty of practise reading out loud and preferably to one's peers. After several rather embarrassing attempts I gained the confidence to study the words "in the round" and thus avoided stumbling over a few of the awkward words. Like most other things in life it is practise that makes perfect and some of us need to practise a bit harder. After making mistakes it is also a good thing to re-read the passage that presented difficulties and try and get it spot-on correct the next time. I am now one of our church readers and have been complimented for clarity and expression and the bible is full of awkward phrases and names.

  • Comment number 84.

    All children are different, what one needs are trained teachers who are allowed to use whatever method works with a particular child rather than dictating a particular method. I've taught young adults who had difficulty learning a particular subject (agreed not literacy) in higher education and I succeeded where others failed by giving them individual attention and adapting my teaching method to them rather than following educational dogma.
    If we want to significantly reduce illiteracy then we need to test every child at a particular level, say at the end of primary school, and give those who do not reach the required literacy standard extra tuition and also test those aged 15/16 who do not pass an English standard grade or eqivalent before leaving school and where necessary insist they receive extra tuition. either at school or elsewhere. Essentially prevent people leaving education until they achieve an appropriate literacy level with penalties for any who refuse, such as making benefits conditional on receiving the required tuition.

  • Comment number 85.

    I have been teaching children how to read since 1966. I have been a reading recovery teacher, a special needs teacher, i have my own tutoring company, I have a Masters in special education and a diploma in Diagnostic reading disabilities. I know how to teach reading and teaching reading through phonics is quite ridiculous since English is not a phonetic language. Teachers like me who have more than 30 years experience of teaching reading know well that there is not one method that works for all children so we use different methods for different children. What would help more children to learn how to read are the following.
    1. smaller classes
    2. reading every day to the teacher or helper
    3.Explaining to children what reading is about.
    4. it is about context, looking at the picture, looking at the words and memorising basic vocabulary using the whole word approach not the sounding out process which makes for barking at print and not a proper flow.
    5. We need to diagnose dyslexia at the early age of 6 and then put in place Reading Recovery programs in every single school in the country for children in Year 1 who are having issues. the Reading recovery program has been around since the 70s is tried and tested and it works in 12 to 16 weeks.
    This is the only way to reach the children with reading problems.
    catch them early , intensive help 30 minutes per day for 12 to 16 weeks through the reading recovery program which is comprehensive and very well organised and tried and tested for more than thirty years. IT WORKS!!!

  • Comment number 86.

    67. At 10:10am on 14 Nov 2010, Trina wrote:

    Two working Mums at work complain about the amount of homework their kids bring home aged around 5-7. There is reading, writing and test work for several hours a night for one Mum who has two kids.

    This can't be right. Why can't this be done at school by teachers and their myriad assistants during the day, and not at night when the kids are as tired as their parents?


    This is an attempt at sarcasm, I presume, if not then it explains a lot

  • Comment number 87.

    WhenI was at primary school in the late 50's/early 60's, we had to write rows and rows of a's, then b's, c's and so on.
    We never had such stupid things as ah,bur,cur,dur,eh, etc, we had prpoer A,B,C,D . That way, we learnt what the word was and how to spell it properly. I would say that 99% of children left juniors literate before goin on to seniors. These days, I would say that it was more like 60%.

    Does that not tell our leaders anything, or are they deliberately dumbing down the population?

  • Comment number 88.

    Over the last 20 years, GCSE passes have been increasing year on year, i.e. children are clearly getting much cleaver.

    So how come, with record exam results, large amounts of kids can't read and write ?

    No, I simply don't believe it, exam results don't lie, do they ?

  • Comment number 89.

    Stop the idiot politicians from tinkering.
    A lot of lefties can't even write their own name but it doesn't stop them from changing how kids are taught.
    Go back to how things were done 50 years ago. Kids learned well enough then; they were disciplined.
    Chanting times tables and learning how to spell words by memorising lists of them was tedious but it worked.
    Teach exclusively in English and stop wasting effort pandering to minorities.

  • Comment number 90.

    88. At 11:32am on 14 Nov 2010, HaveIGotThatWrong wrote:

    Over the last 20 years, GCSE passes have been increasing year on year, i.e. children are clearly getting much cleaver.

    So how come, with record exam results, large amounts of kids can't read and write ?

    No, I simply don't believe it, exam results don't lie, do they ?


    Recently they got a number of A'level maths students to sit an A'level from about 30 years ago. The modern students got the same range of results as the papers' contemporaries although their strengths and weaknesses were slightly different. Ok, not a big enough sample or range of subjects to be a definitive study but it strongly suggests exam standards have altered more than student ability.

  • Comment number 91.

    82 & 74.

    I read 34 & 62 and still think that they both talk the proverbial rubbish espewed by left wing doctrines.

    Society needs to get back to basics. Teaching needs to go back to basics.

    As for forcing children to read and then say that by forcing them to do so could put them off for life, I have never heard such rubbish. School is there to teach children about life and if they cant read or write by the time they go to seniors school, then the teaching fraternity would have failed them, for they will be far worse off in relation to potential future employment.

  • Comment number 92.

    67. I agree entirely. I never had homework until I went to senior school.

    Spotthelemon, I believe, is the sarcastic one.

  • Comment number 93.

    Schools have a responsibilty as do the parents.

    Schools teach the 3R's as if they are an "afterthought" because there is FAR too much in the early years cerriculum.

    Concentrate on the basics before widening the subjects they are taught!

    Children with english as there 2nd language need to be sent, by their parents, to additional lessons, outside school (at their own cost) to help them integrate and catch up.

    League Tables have DESTROYED our education establishments. The "gene" pool will always affect the results so lets not all be blinkered to that too.

    Let the teachers teach, Governments meddle far too much (especially the last lot).

  • Comment number 94.

    Mike from Brum.............Way to go mate. Dead right.

  • Comment number 95.

    children are as intellectually diverse as we are and I do not believe that the 'one size fits all' approach is correct (for example, the phonics system suits some children but others can learn much better by recognising whole or part words/syllables more readily) - I strongly believe in the 'teach the child not the curriculum' approach - I realise that this is more challenging for the teacher who is trained to teach how/what they are told to teach, but our teacher way back in the 1940s could manage three age groups of children in one class with a 50% pass rate in the 'eleven plus'

  • Comment number 96.

    "90. At 11:44am on 14 Nov 2010, spotthelemon wrote:
    88. At 11:32am on 14 Nov 2010, HaveIGotThatWrong wrote:

    Over the last 20 years, GCSE passes have been increasing year on year, i.e. children are clearly getting much cleaver.

    So how come, with record exam results, large amounts of kids can't read and write ?

    No, I simply don't believe it, exam results don't lie, do they ?

    Recently they got a number of A'level maths students to sit an A'level from about 30 years ago. The modern students got the same range of results as the papers' contemporaries although their strengths and weaknesses were slightly different. Ok, not a big enough sample or range of subjects to be a definitive study but it strongly suggests exam standards have altered more than student ability.


    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Having done invigillation over the last couple of years I can catagorically say that MATHS GCSE is FAR TOO EASY.

    Last year my 9 and 11 year old kids could answer some of the questions!

  • Comment number 97.

  • Comment number 98.

    Bring back competition in all schools and increase discipline - we are bringing up a generation of people who think they will get something for nothing and life is NOT like that.

  • Comment number 99.

    It's important that parents help in teaching their children to read, maybe equally important as what happens in the classroom. Encouragement is the key.

  • Comment number 100.

    By the time we try to rescue poor readers at age 11 following a low SATs test it is too late. Identifying children at 6 and then giving them intensive, specialised one to one with a highly trained teacher (not a teaching assistant)through the Every Child a Reader scheme has been proven effective through research. However, the govt have pulled the plug on funding for this and other Every Child a Chance programmes. For the children who struggled most with literacy (or numeracy) this intensive intervention seems to be the answer. No teacher with classes of 30 can help a child who is two years or more behind his peer group and TAs are not usually trained well enough to give this sort of intervention.

 

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