Under consideration PE2037: Improve literacy attainment through research-informed reading instruction
Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to:
provide national guidance, support, and professional learning for teachers in research-informed reading instruction, specifically systematic synthetic phonics;
ensure teacher training institutions train new teachers in research-informed reading instruction, specifically systematic synthetic phonics.
Previous action taken
I previously lodged a petition on this issue in June 2017, and gave evidence to the Public Petitions Committee in November 2017. The petition was then referred to the Education and Skills Committee. Despite lengthy correspondence with John Swinney MSP (then Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education & Skills), the petition was closed in May 2022 on the basis that the Committee had no plans to scrutinise initial training education.
I have met with and written to Alasdair Allan MSP on several occasions and have also been in email contact with Oliver Mundell MSP.
This petition has the potential to improve attainment in literacy and to close the attainment gap.
Systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) is an approach to initial reading instruction which explicitly teaches letters and sounds, enabling children to read unfamiliar words by sounding out and blending.
Research shows that children taught by SSP make short and long-term gains in reading, spelling and reading comprehension.
While most schools in Scotland use some form of phonics, the vast majority also use sight words (memorisation of whole words); multi-cueing strategies (where children are taught to look at the pictures, the first or last letters in a word, or to use their knowledge of context/sentence structure to work out/guess unfamiliar words); and old-style levelled reading books (instead of phonically decodable readers).
This means that the most common type of reading instruction in Scotland is not aligned with the scientific evidence.
Additional background information is available here.