The Council for the Improvement of Literacy
in the English Language in the United Kingdom

and
the simplified
spelling
society


Founded 1908
Working for planned change in English spelling
for the benefit of learners and users everywhere


Charles Clarke, MP
Secretary of State for Education and Skills
Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street
London SW1 3BT

9th February, 2003

Dear Mr Clarke

Re: 27th February, 1953: The 50th Anniversary of Second Reading of the Private Member's Bill to review Spelling in the English Language by Dr. Mont Follick, MP.

I draw to your attention the above anniversary.

We would be pleased to know if, during your term of office in the Education and Skills Department, you intend to take advantage of the above opportunity and take up the challenge of supporting the use of modified spellings that have, and are coming into common usage because of the needs of technology and ease of communication.

This would give an immeasurable benefit to that large part of the young population who are denied access in their adulthood to the full economic and cultural benefits of life in the United Kingdom due to their poor literacy rates. CILELUK and the SSS are ready to serve you in this respect.

Research shows (see below) that literacy rates are much higher in countries where the writing follows more phonetic rules than in the United Kingdom. By allowing and supporting modified spellings via a leading Dictionary and Hansard, you will be conferring a lasting benefit far beyond any changes currently before your Department. Educational underachievement will become a thing of the past.

We are following with interest our government's initiative in widening participation to education at all levels, and in particular in encouraging those from less advantaged backgrounds to reach higher educational levels. As one of the main impediments to getting the most out of educational opportunity is the learner's uncertainties about reading and writing skills, we feel that removing at least some of those fears will significantly improve the government's aim of increased literacy and increased educational achievement.

Yours sincerely

A J S Bovill
Chair

www.spellingsociety.org

References:

1. Chief Inspector David Bell's report on Literacy rates.
2. Ministry of Education pamphlet No. 32 Standards of Reading 1948-1956.
3. At the time of the Second Reading, Ralph Morley, MP for Itchen: "As a class teacher for nearly 50 years, I know it is our ridiculous and illogical spelling which is the chief handicap in teaching children to read".
4. Dyslexia: "Cultural Diversity and Biological Unity" Paulescu, etc., Science 291, 2065 (2001)
5. Meeting of the Philological and Statistical Societies, 5.11.1857; Meeting of the Oxford Delegates of the OUP, Oct.,1877 and 26.4.1878 - the furtherance of the spread of the English Language etc. (see Simon Winchester, pps 78 - 112, ISBN 0-06-099486-X (pbk).