PE01668: Improving literacy standards in schools through research-informed reading instruction


Petitioner: Anne Glennie


Date Lodged: 09 August 2017

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to i) provide national guidance, support, and professional learning for teachers in research-informed reading instruction, specifically systematic synthetic phonics; ii) ensure teacher training institutions train new teachers in research-informed reading instruction, specifically systematic synthetic phonics.

Petition History:

This petition has now been referred to the Education and Skills Committee. You can view any further updates on this petition on the Education and Skills Committee's webpage


9 November 2017: The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government, the General Teaching Council for Scotland, the Educational Institute of Scotland, the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, and teacher training institutions in Scotland. Link to Official Report 09 November 2017

15 March 2018: The Committee agreed to write to the Deputy First Minister and initial teacher education institutions. Link to Official Report 15 March 2018

24 May 2018: The Committee agreed to wait for the publication of the self-evaluation framework, and then seek the petitioner's view on whether it addresses the concerns raised in her petition and subsequent correspondence. The Committee also agreed to write to the Deputy First Minister. Link to Official Report 24 May 2018

27 June 2019: The Committee agreed to refer the petition to the Education and Skills Committee for consideration. Link to Official Report of 27 June 2019

Written submissions:

The decline of literacy standards in Scotland’s schools is unacceptable. Teachers should be supported urgently with national guidance and professional learning in research-informed reading instruction, specifically systematic synthetic phonics (SSP).

Longitudinal research has shown that SSP is effective for the reading, spelling and writing skills of all children, including those thought to be vulnerable and disadvantaged because of factors such as gender, socio-economic group, first language not English, age, struggling learners, children with attention difficulties and those with significant social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. SSP is successful even with children starting school with the lowest level of language and with low social skills on school entry.

  • Should Scotland follow the current international research and change the way we teach beginning reading instruction in our primary schools?
  • Should our reading instruction in schools be led by research or by resources?
  • In your opinion, what do you feel has led to a decline in literacy standards in Scotland and what could be done to address this?
  • If you are a teacher, or a student teacher, have you been given sufficient training, professional development or support in this area?
  • If you are a parent, are you happy with the reading instruction that your child / children have received?
  • Should Scotland consider introducing a Phonics Screening Check (light touch, simple assessment), as has been done in England and is currently being trialled in Australia?


Good luck!!

Faith Borkowsky

15:51 on 08 Aug 2017

I hope there can be changes made

Anne Atkinson

9:13 on 04 Aug 2017

This issue has to be addressed as I am shocked by how far standards of literacy have fallen. I travel extensively and see how other nationalities children are so far ahead particularly in languages, the sciences and maths. The government have got to invest in the necessary skills so that teachers can teach effectively with a passion and our children are not disadvantaged in what is now a very connected world.

Peter Teesdale

11:02 on 14 Jul 2017

The Clackmannanshire study inspired me to organise SP teacher training in a small island in the Caribbean. Since the study showed how well SP works, why would you not do it?

Eileen Measey

15:51 on 09 Jul 2017

I am a systematic synthetic phonics trainer living in Pakistan. This approach of teaching has helped so many teachers to teach correctly and so many children have benefited with good reading & writing skills here. I am surprised to hear of a decline of literacy standards in Scotland's schools, considering that the Clackmannanshire study was done there. I thought they knew better!

Tahira Sheikh

9:52 on 09 Jul 2017

Essential research-based knowledge is being lost in education and far too many teachers leaving university now no longer possess essential understandings of children's learning, instead requiring to follow pre-designed programmes that may not always be appropriate for the children they teach or enable children to learn the concepts being taught with understanding. This is the case across teaching, in both numeracy and literacy. We were once seen as a world-leading country for education, this is now no longer the case. We need to return to knowledge based teaching by ensuring that students leave university with ample knowledge and understanding of children's thinking and learning trajectories and how they can support this as teachers. Better systems could also be put in place to ensure that this learning continues in schools such as mandatory additional time out of class for teachers to participate in research -based CPD opportunities and self-study to support the development of research-based practice.


4:10 on 08 Jul 2017

I have been using systematic explict phonics teaching successfully with previously illiterate children with 100% success. It is the best antidote to poor self esteem I have seen in 20 years of teaching

Lynn Wallace

0:46 on 08 Jul 2017

This is important stuff.

Elaine van den Akker

23:44 on 07 Jul 2017

I have used a synthetic phonics system to teach struggling readers one to one for one hour per week and have raised their reading age by up to 4 years after 35 sessions.

Angela Jordan

9:26 on 07 Jul 2017

Scotland has been a world leader in the past in education, and specifically in synthetic phonics through the Clackmananshire study. It is very sad this is no longer so, and it undermines the ability of the next generation in the country.

Christopher Jolly

16:07 on 06 Jul 2017

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