Letter: The phonics success

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Far from being embarrassed, as your article "New reading plan `staggeringly good' " (report, 7 December) suggests, the Government is pleased that the new literacy hour is becoming a part of school days across England.

The emphasis on phonics, spelling and grammar in the National Literacy Strategy draws on research in over 500 schools where new evidence shows it to be effective. It represents an enormous cultural shift after some 30 years in which far too many teachers and schools dismissed the value of phonics.

We welcome research into effective use of phonics, although the research you quote was based on just eight schools. There is a range of phonics schemes which are entirely consistent with the National Literacy Strategy, and schools are free to choose among them. Where we find good ways of teaching phonics, of course we encourage them.

Coming on top of the pounds 2,000 we have provided for books for every school in the country, pounds 54m for the National Literacy Strategy means that all schools will be able to successfully implement the strategy, which has been shown to work.

ESTELLE MORRIS

Schools Standards Minister

Department for Education and Employment

London SW1

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