Memorandum from the Simplified Spelling
Society (EYF 11)
1. We congratulate the Education Committee
on the many very sensible recommendations which it made regarding
staffing and the general environment for Early Years, but many
of them are costly and not easy to implement. They would also
entail sustained higher spending year after year.
2. It appears that the Committee was very
impressed by early years provision in Denmark and that this strongly
influenced its recommendations for UK.
3. We would like to point out that identical
child-care provision during the early years can lead to very different
results later on. Denmark's neighbour Sweden delays formal schooling
until the age of seven, allowing children to learn mainly through
play before then, exactly like Denmark.
4. In international comparisons Sweden has
regularly been found to have the most literate adult population
in the world. Denmark shares the UK's well-documented problem
of poor adult literacy.
5. Swedish and Danish are very similar languages,
but Sweden modernised its spelling in 1907. Neither Denmark nor
England have made a serious attempt to modernise their antiquated,
irregular, unpredictable and therefore very-hard-to-master spelling
6. All improvements in early years provision
are aimed at better educational outcomes in later years. Modernising
our spelling would be a cheap, simple, long-lasting and certain
way to raise educational achievement from infant to university
level. Many countries accomplished this in the last century by
the same method which Sweden chose in 1907.
7. Is it not obvious that learning to read
with baffling spellings like "bread, dream, breakthrough,
though, toughcall, shallnow knowdo, go"
has to be fiendishly difficult? Learning to spell identical sounds
in umpteen different ways is even harder: try, die, highstreet,
treat, metre, meteorceiling, thiefthey, playstole,
coal, soul, rollfew, cue, queuedizzy, busyblood,
8. English has a minimum of 3,456 words
with some spelling unpredictability. Italian has at most 700 such
words. As a result of this difference the majority of Italian
children can spell virtually every word in their language after
two years of primary school while large numbers of English-speaking
children still cannot spell many common words at the age of 16,
after 11 years in full-time education.
9. Our children need to start formal schooling
very early because they have to learn so much more than many other
nationals in order to become reasonably competent spellers by
the age of 16. Simplifying our spelling system would free up time
for play and creativity in the early years and guarantee higher
educational standards as well as less frustration and disaffection
all round, but among boys in particular.