The UK Reading Reform Foundation was founded in 1989 by Mona Mcnee. A secondary teacher, Mona first became aware of the Reading Debate when, after he had failed to learn at school, she taught her Down Syndrome son to read using the simple phonics programme she devised herself and a then deeply unfashionable phonics based reading scheme.
While the group Mona founded campaigned for the use of explicit phonics based methods of teaching reading in the UK (largely, at that time, based on common sense application of the out of fashion phonics instruction of a previous generation) the international research community was producing study after study which cast doubts on the efficacy of ‘look and say’ /Whole Word methods of reading instruction by confirming that knowledge of letter/sound correspondences in used in conjunction with automatic sounding out and blending skills were the attributes of skilled readers while the strategies of guessing from initial letters, context and pictures (the then educationally ‘orthodox’ strategies) were practised by poor readers.
The UK RRF has always been a lobbying and campaigning body but its work was brought to the attention of a much wider audience when the RRF website was set up in 2001. The website has been a vehicle for passing on information on all aspects of the teaching of reading and, through its lively message forum, has been the means of bringing together a truly international community of teachers, parents, education professionals, and any interested parties, for discussion, debate and support.
The RRF committee oversees the work of the RRF. Its members all have an interest in the effective teaching of reading and most of them are directly involved in teaching or tutoring children.