Right or Wrong: Gordon Agnew’s Open Letter to Nicky Morgan

Gordon Askew has written this open letter to the new Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, pleading with her to maintain the current phonics push in primary schools:


The danger that Gordon raises attention to is that any plateau in performance pushes ministers towards “finding the answer”. With a lack of any other ideas, the anti-phonics crew are waiting with very persuasive arguments. Then our literacy rates will drop back down to around 48% again, where they were in 1994, 1948 and 1910, the last times that phonics had been pushed out of the classrooms.

This is a battle that has been going for 200+ years and the Wheel of History keeps turning, like Groundhog Day, every 20-40 years. Nicky Morgan has no more knowledge of teaching reading than the average parent and so can only go by what the “experts” tell her. Often the most eloquent will win the day. The Real Books argument is very beguiling.

Of course our view is that Guided Phonetic Reading is the right answer. The data we collect makes it very clearly superior to conventional phonics, which leaves around 15-25% of children still struggling because they choose to sight read words even after phonics instruction. And teaching explicit whole word reading strategies is nothing less than a disaster for half the children in the classroom.

HagerPhoto_20120804_001_Final web (1)David Morgan is CEO of Oxford Learning Solutions and founder of the Easyread System. He has dedicated his life to studying literacy teaching methods and how to help children with dyslexia. www.easyreadsystem.com

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Resolving Conflict with Preschoolers

Have you virtually “met” Deborah at the Teach Preschool blog? Her fun space is packed with recommendations on life with preschool-aged children, from behaviour, to nutrition, to educational materials, and more.

KidsLaughingA recent post on helping preschoolers to resolve conflict seems especially relevant now that it’s summertime and siblings are home in the house together during the day. Deborah gives advice about how to help children resolve interpersonal issues without always needing to run to Mommy for help!

Her excellent tips address:

  • learning to talk it out
  • expressing feelings in a helpful way
  • creating conflict-free environments

Check out the full article here.

DSCN0462Sarah Forrest is a Reading Specialist for Oxford Learning Solutions, publishers of the Easyread System. Easyread is an innovative online program for struggling readers that uses visual phonics to help children catch up to their peers. www.easyreadsystem.com

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Best of all his school work!

Nathan enjoys his Easyread lessons best of all his school work. We use it has a reward. He likes that Funky Monkey Jungle is optional and tends to just skip it. He has not been re-reading the lessons lately because he reads them so well without any mistakes and fluently on the first read.  He has finally worked through his issues with some of the silly characters.  He has begun to transfer his decoding over to other areas of his studies. I am also more aware of how psychologically challenging his lessons are for him, so I am trying to implement some Easyread concepts into his homeschooling, mainly the positive reinforcement and 5-1 praise to negative comment ratio.

I really enjoyed reading the recent Facebook article about the young man who is actually picking up books and reading them on his own. I would be so excited when that day comes for Nathan.

Thank you for all you do!

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Case Study: Off-the-Charts Clever Aspergers Craig Conquers Reading

Before Easyread

From an early age Craig always loved having someone read stories to him, but when he started school he loathed reading and writing and homework was a battleground. It would have been easy to label him as “clever but lazy”: he had an incredibly high verbal IQ but low performance in literacy. His mother, Fiona, suspected dyslexia but the school did not want to test to find out. Irlen lenses helped with some aspects but did not seem to “cure” his learning difficulties.

cm reading

When it came to reading, his main strategy was to guess, based on the pictures and the first letter of the word. Craig was an amazingly good guesser and hid his difficulties well, but he felt keenly that his classmates were racing ahead with reading when he was struggling so much. It just didn’t add up – he knew he was clever so why couldn’t he do it?

One day, he started to pack up his books into a box to sell at a car boot sale. When I said he should keep them for when he got better at reading he said, “There is no point, I’m rubbish at reading. I’ll never be able to read these so someone else should have them.” It was a heart-breaking moment for Fiona.

In Primary Three his reading age was tested as 21 months behind his actual age. The school were still not concerned and said he would learn at his own pace. Fiona disagreed, and decided to give give Easyread a try.

During Easyread

Craig has Aspergers and is very rule-driven. He hated the fact that the phonics rules taught at school didn’t work – for instance he was taught that “ou” spells the sound “ow” (as in loud or proud) but that didn’t work for soup or group. So he just ignored the rules and memorized the words, which didn’t work as a strategy for long.

Easyread suited Craig perfectly because the rules are never broken. He has a very visual memory and could 100% rely that the Owl with a Scowl picture represents the sound “ow” every time without exception.

Also, Craig shared narrator David’s sense of humour and loved learning all the Easyread characters like the Uncle with the Carbuncle.

Fiona was surprised at how keen Craig was to do Easyread every day. Whilst battles over homework each night were still of epic proportions, he always did his 10 minutes of Easyread in the mornings without complaint even in the holidays and weekends. He hasn’t missed a day yet, even when he was off school with the sick bug!

After Easyread

The results have been better than ever imagined. In only 4 months on Easyread, Craig’s reading age went up by an astonishing 19 months! He still improves daily and Fiona now believes he may end up with a reading age beyond his actual age. He is now confident in decoding words he doesn’t know and he very rarely guesses. His whole attitude to reading has changed. Now he happily reads to himself and Fiona often finds him at night, lying in bed, fast asleep still wearing his glasses with a book beside him! He has started engaging with text around him, reading cereal packets and signs where he would never have tried before.

Craig’s family are now able to celebrate his dyslexic, autistic, creative, brilliant mind without having to battle over reading every day. In fact, reading has become such a joy that it’s hard to imagine a day passing where he doesn’t pick up a book for pleasure. He recently said to Fiona, “I love reading so much I am going to read for the rest of my life!”. What a turnaround in only 4 months!

Fiona says: “Tonight when I tucked him into bed he whispered – “Mum, I have a secret! I can actually read Captain Underpants now! I read 5 whole books last night!” (Easyread has not cured him of his tendency to exaggerate!) I cannot find words that can thank Easyread enough. David and his team have given Craig the gift of reading which will make his whole life at school less exhausting as well as opening doors for learning that were barred to him before. Thank you Easyread!”

DSCN0462Sarah Forrest is a Reading Specialist for the Easyread System, and has been delighted to oversee Craig’s brilliant progress on the course in recent months. Easyread is an online course that uses innovative visual phonics to resolve poor literacy due to dyslexia, auditory processing weakness, sight-reading and more.

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Great success for reading/spelling

Sorry I haven’t let you know sooner but we had such a great success with Rhiannon and easy read that she has now really improved her reading/spelling. She has gone from below average in her class to average, which is terrific.
Although she still finds reading and spelling challenging and prefers for more creative forms to express herself, I have no doubt that easy read really assisted her in a greater understanding of the English language and how it works. Which then developed her confidence and commitment.

I would highly recommend Easy read to anyone with a child that’s struggling with reading, it’s not a quick fix, which is a good thing as we all know they don’t work.

Thank you again.

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A huge relief to finally understand

Things are on track and we know that we need to be patient. It has been a huge relief getting some understanding of what the underlying issues are – when school has been hopeless at helping! Flora is engaged with the lessons and enjoys them. The system of code words and prizes is a useful support – and the guidance and encouragement for parents is excellent.
We are all committed to the course- Flora and parents – and have manged to find ways to fit in 4 to 5 sessions per week without too much trauma. Looking forward to getting teh next 6 weeks under ouir belts and starting to see the glimmers we are already seeing turn into a meaningful shift. Crucially, Flora’s confidence in her reading is increasing, she hasn’t lost her love for books and the library and she is enjoying the course (as is her rapt little sister!)

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How to Go Camping Without Leaving Home



Looking to create some family adventures at home on a budget? Look no further than your own backyard for a little summer camping.




What you’ll need:

  • a tent (makeshift blankets draped over chairs can do in a pinch!)
  • a firepit (or a candle stuck into a circle of grassless dirt)
  • marshmallows and roasting sticks
  • a picnic blanket
  • camping food (granola bars, sandwiches, soup in a thermos)
  • a little imagination

Plan to head outside for the sunset and go “pretend camping” together as a family. After a picnic dinner, roast some marshmallows as soon as the sun goes down. Take turns telling funny stories, and give out points for creativity! Remember to stow away your phones and tablets to simulate a real unplugged camping experience.

DSCN0462Sarah Forrest is a Reading Specialist for the Easyread System, an innovative visual phonics program that uses Guided Phonetic Reading technique to help children with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, and more. www.easyreadsystem.com

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Can’t praise it more highly!!

Hi Sarah

Tuscan is doing very well with his reading in all aspects, we can now hear him voluntarily reading the road/street/shop signs as we drive around the city.

Also at the end of last term I asked his teacher how he was going with his reading (I hadn’t said anything to her at that stage about Easyread as I wanted it to be a gauge as to how he was doing at school, without any predetermined ideas) and she told me that the 3 helpers that come in regularly to help with the poor readers had all said at different times how much his reading had improved this term (Term 2). So as you can expect, the thrill I got from that was awesome! (I can’t thank you enough!!)

He is doing well with the 3 little pigs story, we’ve got over the -”ohbother! this part”- stage and he is picking up the decoding well even beating me quite regularly, much to his delight! we click on the occasional word only when we ‘both’ can’t work it out!!

Overall I don’t have any problems with the system, I can’t praise it more highly!! Thank you for everything. Look forward to talking to you again.

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Slow and steady wins the day!

Things are slowly coming together for Lily-Rose and she is actually beginning to read text in the world other than just her easy read text. It’s really exciting and emphasizes that gentle ploughing on wins the day, we’ve still a long way to go, but the fact that we are seeing real life progress now is fab. Just wanted to share with you

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