Education in Prisons

Dame Sally Coates’ review of prison education was published recently and I’d like to add some thoughts. Having spent fourteen months working in the pre-release unit of a large men’s prison, I come to this with huge respect for the fact that prisons are complex environments in which to achieve almost anything. Most of what interested me is in Chapter 3: “A personalised and inclusive approach to learning” and I want to discuss the disconnection between recognising the huge proportion … Read More

Literacy Methods: Shame or Safety?

I was speaking at a high school where I had one hour to train 30 staff members in spelling with the English code which meant no time for the usual asides, quips or soapbox moments. I found myself saying, “I love the idea of very high expectations, but…” and moving on before I could expound. I did get to share this slide, but, again, with no time to discuss the concept of every classroom being a “shame free learning space”. … Read More

Reading & Spelling with a Visual Learner

Dusted off and polished up – because the myth of learning styles never goes away. Not all That Reading Thing students are disaffected and disengaged. Pete is in his twenties and formally diagnosed as severely dyslexic. He reads well but his spelling is a huge embarrassment to him. He’s accomplished in many other areas and can clearly explain his strategies for reading and writing. Reading: “I know all the words by sight”. (and he does – sort of) Spelling: “I … Read More

Greg Brooks’ What Works 5th edition – 2016

posted in: Dyslexia, Evidence

What Works for Children and Young People with Literacy Difficulties? The latest edition of Greg Brooks’s review of intervention schemes for children and young people with literacy difficulties is out. (See Greg’s assessment of That Reading Thing here.) That Reading Thing is now included in the Key Stage 3 section with a note that it’s still very appropriate for young people 14 plus and outside the system. I’d like to add that it’s still very much aimed at that older … Read More

Literacy that’s both progressive and traditional

posted in: Thoughts on Education

Everything these days, including education, seems to come in a polarised package. If I like A then I must also embrace B and C, and reject without question, D. I despise the assumptive and dismissive nature of these ‘sides’, not least because I have a mongrel educational history that can’t now be undone. You see, I am a product of the early 70’s West Coast Open Education (home of Frank Smith) and I bless those experimenting teachers of the Bayview … Read More

four floor flour – Sight or Sound?

Many dyslexic adults can read a lot but experience anxiety when required to read aloud, so I decided to practise reading Trivial Pursuit question cards. The difficult bit was not what I expected. “Which musical did the Daily Express hail: A fine, four-fendered, fabulous night?” The word that stumped Pete here was four, not because he didn’t recognise it but because it had been filed in his memory in the same slot as flour and floor and those three words … Read More

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