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Rosen calls for backing for reading for pleasure
24.07.12 | Charlotte Williams
Former children's laureate Michael Rosen is leading calls by children's book authors and illustrators for the government to implement the Ofsted recommendation on reading for pleasure and to withdraw the Phonics Screening and Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar tests.
Rosen writes: "We call on the government to implement the Ofsted recommendation on reading for pleasure, to withdraw the Phonics Screening Check and the SPAG test, and to reinstate mixed methods of initial reading methods (which include 'basic phonics' and real books)."
In the letter, sent to the Guardian, Rosen said the proposed Draft Primary English Curriculum, the Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year One, and the new Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar test at the end of Year Six "pose a threat to reading for pleasure in primary schools".
The letter has been signed by 90 other authors and artists, including Philip Ardagh, Meg Rosoff, Philip Reeve and Jeremy Strong, as well as Alan Gibbons and Ed Wicke.
Rosen writes that the recent recommendation from Ofsted to the government that it "call on all schools to develop policies on reading for enjoyment" has so far not been acted on by the government. Rosen said: "On the other hand, millions are being spent on systematic synthetic phonics programmes and training, subsidised by the government, although there is no evidence that such programmes help children understand what they are reading."
The letter continues: "As a result, more school time will be devoted to reading as an academic, test-driven exercise; less time will be available for reading and writing for enjoyment. We deplore this state of affairs and consider that the quality of children's school lives is about to be altered for the worse."