Reading: Academics criticise DfE's narrow focus on 'synthetic phonics only'

Research claiming that the government’s main approach to the teaching of reading does not follow the best evidence has reignited the debate over the teaching of phonics.

A paper published this week includes analysis of 55 robust longitudinal experimental trials as well as survey findings from 2,205 teachers in England.

It warns that the teaching of phonics and reading in primary schools in England has changed fundamentally. Specifically, the researchers say that the national curriculum and other guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) has shifted over the last decade from using a more balanced approach to a far narrower focus on synthetic phonics only.

Synthetic or blended phonics teachesreading by first teaching the letter sounds and then building up to blending these together to achieve full pronunciation of whole words.

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