Fabian has questioned the government's blinkered adherence to Phonics as the now expected method by which children will be taught to read. School inspections are scheduled to examine how strongly the method is being used as a means to improve standards of literacy.
Phonics involves teaching children the sounds made by letters and combinations of letters and that by 'building up' the sound of the word, a child will then recognise it as something they have learned through speaking and listening. While the method is not new and is well understood it has its critics who argue that other methods should be tried as well, in particular the one where children learn words through their shape as well as by noting the individual letters.
Fabian is concerned that an over reliance on just one method will put at risk children's enjoyment of learning to read for pleasure. In addition he fears that teachers in schools will be unwilling to try using differnt techniques, even if phonics is not working, for fear that they will be criticised for failing to follow the government's chosen strategy.
He says, "This is yet another example of Education Minister Michael Gove's simplistic and narrow approach to educational problems. We all can agree that improving literacy is one of the best possible ways of preparing children to be productive members of society and to be able to earn a living througout their lives. Putting all eggs in the same basket is never a good idea but such an approach is the hall mark of Gove's imposed solutions. Failing school? - Make it an Academy - all sorted!! Concern about GCSE standards? Narrow the choice - remove an emphasis on subjects linked to jobs - all sorted!! Difficulty with reading? Hammer in the skills with phonics alone. Job done!! Like all such politics, it will end with a reshuffle and Gove will move on - leaving behind the pieces to be picked up again and children who will have suffered because of dogma."
Details of the debate about phonics can be found in the following press articles.
MPs say phonics will put children off reading for pleasure
Warning over Government's 'dull' reading lessons
MPs: Gove's obsession with phonics will turn children off reading
Schools bribed to take phonics