Too young to read
Sir: We view with the very greatest concern the recent comments of the Chief Inspector of Schools and of the Education minister Margaret Hodge on literacy and numeracy in the early years ("First reading steps `should start at three' ", 23 June).
Children need to acquire an enormous range of skills, especially the spoken communication which many of us take for granted, before they can even begin to learn to read, write and count. It is with these skills - auditory processing, memory, sequencing, motor co-ordination, to name but a few -that children with speech and language impairments have the most difficulty, and where they most need extra help. They are developed largely through the "play" of which Chris Woodhead is so disparaging.
The different and more successful practice of other European countries, where formal learning begins much later and reading scores are dramatically better than in Britain, is ignored.
Deputy Chief Executive
Afasic, London EC1