Category Archives: Education

TESS Article: Do I have to spell it out? Synthetic phonics works

The following article appears in this week’s copy of TES Scotland (8th December)   Do I have to spell it out? Synthetic phonics works Last month I gave evidence at the Scottish Parliament on my petition to improve literacy standards in schools through research-informed reading instruction. It calls for national guidance, support, and professional learning […]

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I’d like to teach the world to read… but I’d settle for every child in Scotland.

You can feel it in the air. The end of term. Proms, prize-givings, leavers’ assemblies and celebrations for all that’s been achieved in another full-to-bursting academic year. As schools close their gates for the summer, many involved in Scottish education – the teachers in particular – will be glad to see the end of the […]

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A Journey to the Dark Side: from Phonics Phobic to Phonics Fanatic

A Journey to the Dark Side: from Phonics Phobic to Phonics Fanatic I am delighted to have a feature article published in the summer edition of the NATE Primary Matters magazine. It's quite a personal one, but it will hopefully provide some background for those who think I've always been a phonics fanatic… Indeed, it's […]

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The Winner Takes It All

As 2016 drew to a close, Strictly Come Dancing, X Factor and The Apprentice all crowned new champions, as the losers clapped to hide their misery in the side-lines. In PISA, the biggest education tournament of them all, Scotland recorded its ‘worst scores ever’ in reading, maths and science. The news seemed to shock many, […]

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Why Upstart is a Nonstarter

Upstart Scotland is actively campaigning to introduce a Nordic-style kindergarten system between the ages of three and seven, with learning being undertaken through ‘creative play’ rather than ‘formal’ learning. As a campaign that sits outwith Scottish education, I was shocked to see very full and positive coverage in the current issue of Teaching Scotland magazine. […]

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Tackling Inequality Through Teaching: A Letter to the Prime Minister by Dr Marlynne Grant

I am delighted to be able to post this letter from Dr Marlynne Grant, to the Prime Minister, on the subject of tackling inequality through education.   The Rt Hon Theresa May MP Prime Minister 10 Downing Street London SW1A 2AA Dear Prime Minister Tackling Inequality Through Teaching While the debate about grammar schools hits […]

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TESS article: When it comes to literacy, let’s start at page 1

Today Nicola Sturgeon officially launched the 'First Minister's Reading Challenge'. Here is an article that I wrote for TESS about the challenge. It was published in TESS on 1st April 2016. TESS article: When it comes to literacy, let's start at page 1 First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently launched a competition aimed at nurturing a lifelong love […]

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My Verdict: Education Scotland’s ‘Early Reading Briefing’

Well, it has been just over a year since I started writing angry letters to the Scottish Government and campaigning about the need for proper phonics teaching in the classroom and in teacher training in Scotland. So today gave me cause for a little, tiny celebration, when Education Scotland published some new guidance on the […]

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Planning and Assessing Listening and Talking

Would you like some *new* and *free* documents to help with planning and the assessment of Listening and Talking? Of course you would! Well, I have created the following that might be useful in your school to provide consistency in teaching, learning and record-keeping. If you are already a Reflective Reading school they will dovetail […]

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Read Between the Lines (TESS article)

Recent comments from Nicola Sturgeon suggest that national testing might be about to return to Scotland. I do support our forward-thinking curriculum, but I also feel there are bits of it where we could do better. We cannot ignore the uncomfortable truth that, when it comes to literacy, we are in a worse place now than […]

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