The education secretary should know the phonics system has been around since 2011 and is ‘proven to work’

Welcome to your new job as education secretary. In your Conservative party conference speech you drew our attention to when you were at school. As this was your focus, I took a look at your wikipedia page to see where you got your education. It says two out of your three secondary schools were private ones. No one is responsible for the education their parents chose for them, but as you made a point of thanking your teachers, there will be some of us who might wish that all school students could get the same facilities as those offered within the private sector. I’ve come up with a phrase for bringing this about: “levelling up”. Please feel free to use it.

One big theme in your speech was “illiteracy”. To tell the truth, I thought your government had cracked this. In 2011, I was at the House of Commons for that year’s launch of the Summer Reading Challenge. We were lucky to have a speech from the then schools minister, Nick Gibb. He went straight to his favourite subject: phonics – or to be more precise, systematic synthetic phonics (SSP). He said that SSP would “eradicate illiteracy”.

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