At the Conservative Party Conference yesterday the Secretary of State for Education Damien Hinds has announced £26.3 million to fund 32 new Primary English Hubs. Tasked with building ‘a network of excellent phonics teaching in every region’, these ‘English’ hubs will disseminate ‘effective’ phonics teaching. The United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) is disappointed that yet more money from within the education budget in England is being directed again to a single aspect of teaching reading. Phonics is an essential, but not sufficient, part of becoming an independent reader. As important is the development of motivation to read, to be engaged with high quality texts, leading to a lifelong desire to read for purpose and fulfilment.
UKLA believes this funding would be better spent on high-quality reading resources for schools and public libraries. £23.6 million could provide over 4 million fabulous new books for children to choose to dive in and immerse themselves, rather than yet more training for teachers about phonics.