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Guest Post: 3 Words of Caution About Literacy Trials

10 Reasons you should get your class blogging

In the UK, with the new phonics matching funding, lots of schools will be looking for good programmes to invest in that can secure real progress for their students. So a note I received recently from David Morgan of Easyread caught my eye. How do you make sure that your literacy programme is the real thing, and you’ve not been saddled with snake oil?


When a literacy system is being promoted, the company will often publish “research-based evidence” for its success with schoolchildren. In itself this is a good thing, of course, but there are a few reasons to be wary of these results.  The truth is that if the results achieved in these trials were routinely reproduced, then we would not have around 20% of children still struggling to learn to read.

So, if you are evaluating a new product, here are three questions to ask the publisher:


1) Who has paid for the research?

If it is the publisher that will often influence the processing of the results.  It is only human nature!


2) How many schools were involved and who managed the project?

These trials are often conducted in a small cluster of schools under close personal supervision by the publisher throughout the trial.  That is quite different to a nationwide implementation of the same product.  Ask to see the results of local schools already using the system but not in the trial.


3) Do they guarantee the results can be reproduced?

You are being asked to make a substantial investment in a new system, both in purchase cost and internal reorganisation.  Does the publisher take an equal risk, by guaranteeing the results you see match the trial results?  If not, why not?

David Morgan is the Managing Director of Easyread, an international synthetic phonics system based in Oxford specializing in teaching struggling children how to read using multimedia materials delivered over the Internet. For more information, visit


One response to “Guest Post: 3 Words of Caution About Literacy Trials”

  1. The Rose Report said, at long last, “Teach phonics” but the 2007 “Letters and Soudns” which claims to be systematic is not. It is the most horrible jumble.
    I hope some brae teachers will dare to try – which is common sense and needs no training. Will they then report back to us? Used for Y 1 and 2 in a school with 70% on free meals, it achieved a 7+ aRQ of 119 in 1997 (featured in the BBC TV “Just One chance”, which is outstanding. You would think the LEA would want to spread this,but they have done the opposite for 15 years.
    Instead of 1 in 4 failing for 50 eyars, I want failure to be down to 5% or less, at no cost. Most dyslexics should learn along with the rest of us, if all were taught the simple letters>sounds that dyslexics need. “Letters and Sounds” (like other schemes) sadly goes from 44 sounds to letters!
    Ask me if you do no understand!

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