Post-16 Phonics

I’ll be reposting some relevant blog items in light of the launch of post-16 phonics for functional skills in England. Phonics in this context often involves a lot of “unlocking” knowledge the learner already possesses but doesn’t know how to use. Sometimes they need to get past their anger and shame over past school experiences. Here’s one such young person. **************** Why would you work on reading with a young offender? There are plenty of reasons not to. Being in … Read More

Where Reading Can Take You

A taste of what can happen in a That Reading Thing lesson The Deal in That Reading Thing is: “you never have to know anything we haven’t learned together”. The flip side of The Deal is that students do need to know what we have learned together – and the result is often higher expectation than our students have ever experienced before.  That high expectation is reflected in our choice of reading material. That Reading Thing intentionally tries to take … Read More

Literacy in the Youth Justice System

Today saw the publication of Charlie Taylor’s Youth Justice Review. Cynic that I am, I settled down to read it expecting to find a heap of material for an argumentative blog post. Keeping in mind that I’m writing about education rather than the more contentious devolution of YOTs, I’m happy to announce that I can only summon up a reasonably strong “Yes, but”. That Reading Thing came out of working with a little school for boys with emotional and behavioural … Read More

Literacy for Teens who ‘Don’t do education’

In the early years, That Reading Thing was used mostly with young people who had some connection to the local youth offending team, either in the YOS system or at risk of being on their books at some point. ‘I don’t do education’ was a common statement at the first session. That sentiment was echoed by a woman from the Basic Skills Agency who insisted, ‘You can’t just sit a young offender down at a table and teach them to … Read More

Literacy for Young People on the Outside of Education

Years ago now, during the Round 8 funding for mentoring young offenders, I sat in a meeting where a woman from the Basic Skills Agency stated categorically that you couldn’t sit a teenaged offender down at a table and teach them to read. It just wasn’t possible. It was early days for That Reading Thing and, lacking guts, I let that comment slide by while fuming at the arrogance of a specialist who was consigning our most vulnerable teens to … Read More

Literacy for Young People who May or May Not Have Offended

Here’s something I wrote in 2013 in response to a conversation about ‘illiterate young offenders’. Reading deficits in ‘young offenders’ exist for many reasons, not just a lack of good instruction in primary school because they often have complex educational, social and emotional needs. I also don’t talk about young offenders separate from any other marginalised young person because those in YOIs are just the ones who got caught and sentenced to an institution, not the ones who got a … Read More