The Department for Education’s promotion of synthetic phonics can be damaging to early readers and is seriously flawed, according to a leading education academic.
The way reading is being taught has “disturbing and potentially destructive consequences” for teachers and pupils, warns Dr Andrew Davis, honorary research fellow at the University of Durham’s school of education.
Synthetic phonics teaches children to sound out letters and blend those sounds into actual words and is the government's favoured reading method for primary school pupils.
In a new book, Dr Davis says: “It really does look as though they are trying to make all teachers teach all pupils in a particular way, regardless of what those teachers know of individual differences and needs”.
He adds that giving children who are already reading “a rigid diet of intensive phonics could make a destructive impact on their emerging identities as persons”.