The Teaching of Initial Literacy - how do teachers do it?

Anne Kispal, Tom Gorman, Cres Fernandes, Vivienne Cato, Janet White

01 January 1992

Although the public debate about methods of teaching initial literacy might suggest that teachers are divided between a 'phonics' and a 'real books' approach, the reality, as this report shows, is that there is a high level of consensus among teachers about the combination of methods to be used.

The evidence on approaches to writing provides a different picture. There is far less agreement about methods of teaching and assessing writing, and less awareness of the role it plays in developing initial literacy. This is well illustrated in the report by a detailed analysis of children's early writing in relation to National Curriculum Attainment Targets.

The authors demonstrate, in relation to both reading and writing, that children progress through more transitional stages of literacy than are suggested by the National Curriculum Attainment Targets for Key Stage 1. The conclusion drawn from the results of this national survey of initial literacy, carried out between April 1990 and December 1991, is that pupils have been more successful in their first two years at school than reports on National Curriculum Assessment results have sometimes implied.

The sorts of books available for reading in class; the use of tape recorders and information technology; time spent watching television - this report provides information on all such topics in a way that will interest everyone concerned about the development of initial literacy.

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