The Conversation April 10, 2024 by Wilem Hollman, Catherine Wallace, Gee Macroy

Government data has shown that in 2022-23, 30% of five-year-olds in England were not meeting the expected standard for literacy at the end of their reception year at school. Literacy was the area of learning in which the lowest proportion of children reached the target level.

A 2023 report from the National Literacy Trust found that less than half of children aged eight to 18 say they enjoy reading. Enjoyment is at its lowest level since 2005. Part of learning to read should be learning to love books – and enjoyment in reading is linked to higher achievement. If children don’t like reading, how we teach it to them isn’t working.

Our view, as academic linguists, is that part of the reason why so many children do not experience joy in reading is the excessive focus on synthetic phonics in early education.

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