Education Scotland and the Mystery of the Shifty Document Swap


KIA Briefing 2: Early Reading

Back in February, Education Scotland published this: A Knowledge Into Action resource for practitioners and education staff Briefing 2: Early Reading.

I blogged about the document and how it was a small step in the right direction. And although the document was flawed in places, the importance of phonics in learning to read was finally, officially recognised:

Evidence from Scotland shows that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to have difficulties with their reading. As a result, phonics-based approaches are more likely to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds master the basics of reading.


February Briefing


Spot the Difference

But then, on 19th April, the same document was published again… or was it?

April Briefing

At first glance the documents are identical – they have the same title, logos and headings – and the document is still dated with February 2016when it should say April 2016.

The content however, has changed beyond all recognition. The ‘new’ document actually contradicts entirely the content of the first. It pushes a ‘mixed methods’ and a ‘whole language’ ideology and sadly, concrete advice as to how to actually teach children to read is in short supply.

The original document has mysteriously disappeared without trace and is nowhere to be found. (Well, except on my computer and now in the link up above.)

So what happened?


Did the research and the findings contained in the first document change overnight?

No, of course not – that’s impossible.


Did Education Scotland change its mind about its position on phonics, reading and the attainment gap?

Surely not, the Scottish Government’s Literacy Action Plan (2010) quite clearly states: “…in primary schools, the use of synthetic phonics can be an effective method for raising achievement at the point of acquiring basic literacy skills.”


Did someone decide that the national document did not align with their own personal views and ideology about reading?


Did someone re-write the entire document to reflect their own beliefs, cherry picking the research to support their points?


Did Education Scotland change the contents of the document based on one person’s views?

That’s what’s worrying me.

Did Education Scotland knowingly deceive practitioners by quietly removing the old document and publishing a look-a-likey replacement, hoping that no-one would notice the complete u-turn in advice?

You can make your own mind up about that one.


It’s a sad day for Scottish education if one person has the power and influence to overrule Education Scotland and dictate the direction we’re going in… especially as it’s the wrong one.

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About the author

Anne Glennie is a Primary Teacher, Literacy Consultant, Trainer and the creator of Reflective Reading and founder of The Learning Zoo. Living on the Isle of Lewis she also has her own menagerie comprising: 1 husband, 2 children, 8 alpacas, 10 Hebridean sheep, 1 crested gecko and 1 French bulldog called Moomin.

7 comments on “Education Scotland and the Mystery of the Shifty Document Swap”

  1. Anne Glennie Reply

    No it hadn't even crossed my mind – I just discovered the switch this morning when I was updating my slides for training. I might put a wee email together. Thank you for taking the time to comment 😀

    • Anne Glennie Reply

      I'm afraid we will never know the real truth behind this particular mystery.

    • Anne Glennie Reply

      Will I make money from this? Sadly, I think the only things I will make off the back of this post are enemies. I have been campaigning about these issues for over a year now, reading, researching, writing letters etc. in my own time because I believe there are enormous problems in our education system when it comes to reading.


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