Teacher takes campaign to improve literacy to Parliament

Anne Glennie is petitioning the Scottish Parliament on using the latest methods to teach children how to read.
Anne Glennie is petitioning the Scottish Parliament on using the latest methods to teach children how to read.

A former primary teacher from the Hebrides has given evidence at the Scottish Parliament as the Public Petitions Committee considers her call to provide national guidance to teachers in how to teach children to read.

Anne Glennie from the Isle of Lewis, who has worked for a literacy consultant for the last seven years, has become increasingly concerned about the decline in literacy standards and the lack of knowledge within the teaching profession about current research on reading instruction for children.

Anne, who has trained more than 10,000 teachers in all aspects of literacy across Scotland, said it was “deeply shocking” that teachers in training were not being taught how to teach children to read – and is campaigning for the Scottish Government to include the Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) system in the curriculum.

Explaining why she petitioned the Parliament, Anne Glennie said: “It is a surprising, and deeply shocking, fact that many teachers, working in primary or secondary schools in Scotland today, have had no formal input or training on ‘how to teach children to read’, either as part of their degree, post-graduate teaching qualification or career-long professional learning.”

Anne is at pains to point out that this is not the fault of teachers, explaining: “The truth is that most people – even most teachers – are not experts in the pedagogy of reading. However, the research is out there.”

Data on Literacy Standards

Literacy standards have been falling in Scotland since 2006. This downturn is evidenced by previous Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rounds and confirmed in the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy data.

Last December, Scotland’s OECD rank went from 6th in 2000 to 23rd in 2015 in reading, and is now behind both England and Northern Ireland. Having campaigned for almost three years, Anne is desperate for Scotland to follow the rest of the world and take the guesswork out of learning to read by giving children the knowledge and skills to read (and spell) effectively. Anne said most people, especially parents, would assume that children were being taught to read using the best methods.