IoS letters, emails & online postings (13 April 2014)

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Dr John Rack, using synthetic phonics, please try to say synthetic phonics. You can't. This proves the inadequacy of your system and adds to the belief that dyslexia labels people based on a shaky scientific concept (Letters, 6 April). The best help to a child's reading ability would be help, love and support from parents. A system that strives to help weaker readers through making illogical deductions based on words which within them have multiple pronunciations is just ridiculous. Their and there. Her and here. Nor and gnaw.

Simple is better, and a system of reading that exists only because of some poorly defined research conducted years ago will not, and should not, be used to destroy children's ability to read. It is better to teach children that certain words are read in a certain way because our language is full of illogical exceptions. Learning to read is hard work, much like everything else. Phonics downt maek it eezear. Thanx for yor tiem.

Adam Tunstall

via email

Adam Sherwin's point regarding the male domination of University Challenge, despite female students outnumbering male students across the sector as a whole, is well worth highlighting ("University Challenge final is a starter for men", 6 April). However, there is another persistent issue that seems equally inappropriate: namely, the prominence of Oxbridge colleges.

The contest is called University Challenge, so it seems absurdly incestuous when one Oxford college is competing against another Oxford college, given that they are both constituents of a single university. And similarly with Cambridge colleges. What justification can there be for this illogical arrangement? Durham is also a collegiate university, but it only fields a single team. Why should Oxford and Cambridge be treated differently to, say, Durham, Aberdeen or Cardiff? Each of these institutions manages to field a single team for the boat race!

Richard Wilson

Emeritus Professor Richard M S Wilson

Loughborough University

The last thing we need is a quota system for female students on University Challenge. It is the responsibility of each university to select its best team and nothing to do with the BBC or politicians. If University Challenge wants to remain the best quiz show on television, it should not kowtow to political correctness.

Stan Labovitch

Windsor, Berkshire

Labour's desire to break the white upper-class grip on the Civil Service is to be welcomed, but the roots of this inequality lie in housing, schools, universities and equality of opportunity from an early age ("Labour would fast-track working-class and ethnic minority applicants to top of Civil Service", 6 April). Labour's plan will create a coterie of public servants who owe their position to patronage and will further politicise the Civil Service.

Ian McKenzie

via email

What an intolerant rant by Joan Smith in her swipe at Christianity! ("Fed up? Just listen to Fry", 30 March). Yet for her to be impressed by luvvies espousing the secularist cause seems naive to me. I enjoy Stephen Fry's performances in shows such as QI but I will not be taking his advice on how to live a happy and fulfilled life. For those greater questions about life and existence, I prefer older and more enduring wisdom than that of luvvies and glitterati and the shallow but fashionable opinions of the fleeting minute.

Gus Logan

North Berwick


Dear, oh dear, oh dear. On reading Archie Bland (6 April), who thinks that the demise of Nuts and the rise of more thoughtful reading shows that young men have increased respect for themselves, I could not help recalling the old sea-dog saying: "There are only two types of men, w****** and liars."

Simon Ashley

Harwich, Essex

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Letters to the Editor, The Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF. Email: Online: Day In a Page 13 April 2014