Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Celebrating a failure

Celebrating a failure

This week people who advocate the updating of English spelling celebrate a failure that almost led to important changes in our written language.

Fifty years ago, on February 27, 1953, MP Dr Mont Follick's Spelling Reform Bill passed its second reading in the British House of Commons, an astounding event that promised much but eventually delivered little. It also passed the committee stage, but because there was no chance of the House of Lords approving it, it was withdrawn after a compromise was reached between its supporters and the Government.

The Secretary of Education undertook to inquire into the effect the current spelling had on teaching children to read and write. A survey was carried out jointly by two respected educational institutions, London University's Institute of Education and the National Foundation for Educational Research. They tested children being taught in the current alfabet, and those taught in the experimental fonic-friendly initial teaching alfabet (ITA). Overall, the ITA children learned more quickly, wrote longer stories with a wider vocabulary, and had a better attitude to learning.

"ITA was a teaching experiment only, and did not endure, despite its better results," says Allan Campbell, New Zealand spokesman for the Simplified Spelling Society.

"But the experiment showed that English-speaking children, given an effective tool, can learn to read and write as quickly and efficiently as, say, Italian children," he said. "This evidence keeps us advocates of spelling change committed to the task of removing a major hurdle to a better literacy standard."

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis Review: Sally Potter's The Party

Sally Potter remains one of Britain’s most determined independent film-makers, deliberately resisting the lure of mainstream attention in order to work entirely on her own terms. The Party is an undeniably engaging and droll divertissement from an independent filmmaker who has mastered her art without ever compromising it. More>>

Winter Games: NZ's Second Ever Winter Olympic Medal

Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson congratulates snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott on winning the bronze medal in the Women’s Big Air at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea today. More>>


Howard Davis Preview: Terry Gilliam's Subversive Brazil

Full kudos to the Embassy Theatre for stepping up to the plate and hosting the Wellington Film Society, after the owners of the Paramount committed an unpardonable act of cultural vandalism when it shuttered the country's oldest movie theatre last year. The Film Society is opening their 2018 season with Terry Gilliam's brilliantly subversive Brazil on Monday, 26 February. More>>

Howard Davis Preview: Ria Hall Performs 'Rules of Engagement' at The NZ Festival

Concerned with the perennial themes of conflict and resistance, Rules of Engagement took five years for Ria Hall to complete. See her perform live with vocalist Mara TK and powerhouse trio The Nudge on Saturday, 24 February, at the Festival Club, 17 Cable St., Wellington, and Sunday, 25 February, at Maoriland Hub, 68 Main St, Otaki. More>>

Review: Robbie Williams – The Heavy Entertainment Tour

The audience – already in a good humoured state of excitement after kareokeing along to the “Robbie Williams National Anthem" (a typical mix of bombast and self deprecatory nonsense) – were up and dancing to Welcome to the Heavy Entertainment tour... More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland