Friday, 14 March 2008

The real reason why too many children aren't reading properly

A report today by the charity Xtraordinary People claims that the reason 20% of youngsters don't make the grade in national tests is because half of them are dyslexic. That may indeed be the reason, and I'm all in favour of better diagnosis earlier. But isn't it just as plausible that the failure of a quarter of schools to introduce phonics yet, as indicated in Sir Jim Rose's report today, might be as much to blame?


oldandrew said...

The two claims aren't contradictory, given that dyslexia is far less of a problem where children are taught using phonics in the first place.

That said I am very curious about the methodology of the research. The feature about it on the Today programme suggested they may have looked at 1400 students but then cut this sample down to only those who had failed their SATs. If this is correct then this is likely to be a tiny sample size which, when combined with the difficulties involved in diagnosing dyslexia, makes me suspicious of the whole enterprise.

Conor Ryan said...

Point taken - it is a shame that dyslexia charities aren't doing more to highlight the benefits of phonics too.

oldandrew said...

To their credit Dyslexia Action, formerly the Dyslexia Insititute, do a fair bit on this score.

Unfortunately, as with any other learning disorder, there are those who believe without evidence that traditional methods of education (in the broadest sense, not just in literacy) must be to blame. I've seriously heard people claim that no testing, more groupwork and no discipline are what dyslexics need.

By the way, thanks for including me in your blog role and I enjoyed your book. Any chance of a follow up to see what has happened to those "excellent schools" since?

Conor Ryan said...

Maybe not an update of Excellence in Education. But I have edited a new volume for the Social Market Foundation on 14-19 education, Staying the Course, which is published later this month.