The initial teaching alphabet (i.t.a.) is an 'initial alphabet' for the teaching of reading to beginners. It consists of forty-four symbols which represent the 'forty sounds' of the English language according to Sir James Pitman. The i.t.a. alphabet is based on phonetic spelling of words - the theory being that children and beginners can become proficient readers much more quickly by using this medium which doesn't have the complexities and contradictions of the English "Traditional Orthography" (TO) alphabet. Once proficiency in reading skills is attained, i.t.a. allows the reader to transfer to the TO alphabet.
As early as 1568, augmentation of the Roman alphabet was advocated to "adequately represent the sounds of English". Sir Isaac Pitman, inventor of the Pitman shorthand system, made a start at augmentation of the Roman alphabet in the 1830s, but it was his grandson Sir James Pitman who completed the task in 1960. Sir James Pitman's development of i.t.a. was not an attempt at spelling reform, but the creation of a medium for the initial learning of reading.
Arlie B. Hargreaves was involved with the i.t.a. in Australia from the beginning, first as i.t.a. advisor for Pitman House Publishing Co., Carlton, which sponsored the introduction of i.t.a. into Australia from 1963-1973; then, with the help of Sir George Paton, Hargreaves formed the i.t.a. Association of which she served as Honorary Secretary/Treasurer. At the same time, Hargreaves used i.t.a. as a tutor in literacy at the CAE (Council of Adult Education), and also with AMES (Adult Migrant Education Services). Her home in Carlton served as the office and resource centre for the i.t.a. Association.
1960 Sir James Pitman completes the initial teaching alphabet.
1961-1963 Experimentation with i.t.a. in many English schools.
1963 Introduction of i.t.a. to USA and Australia.
1964 The School Council set up in England.
i.t.a. first introduced into Australia by T. L. W. Emerson, an Inspector of Schools in the Education Department of Victoria. First school to use i.t.a. is a state school in Warnambool. Lectures and demonstrations to teachers are held to make i.t.a. more widely known including the film, 'The Forty Sounds of English'. Western Australia introduces i.t.a. for remedial reading. Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales each introduce i.t.a. into one primary school. Early seminars are held at Mercer House, Training College for Independent Schools.
1965 Sir James Pitman visits Australia. Six state schools (including Warnambool) and some independent schools in Victoria commence using i.t.a.. The Education Department initiates a 'Pilot Scheme' involving five of the state schools using i.t.a.. i.t.a. Correspondence Courses conducted by Arlie B. Hargreaves begin throughout Australia.
1965-1966 Research to assess effectiveness of i.t.a. in Victoria - findings not conclusive.
1966 Curriculum and Research Branch of Victorian Education Department published report evaluating first phase of an experiment to compare the effectiveness of i.t.a. with TO - report was favourable.
1966-1967 Professor F. W. Warburton and Mrs Vera Southgate worked on experimentation with i.t.a..
1968 The PALITA (Program of Aboriginal Literacy using i.t.a.) established.
1973 From 1963 to 1973, the promotion and use of i.t.a. in Australia was through the i.t.a. Advisor for the Pitman Publishing Co. Pitman House. In 1973, Pitman House withdrew its financial support from i.t.a. due to poor sales of i.t.a. books.
1974 The i.t.a. Association (Australia) is established, and its Constitution developed. The first Annual Meeting of i.t.a. Association is held, including the election of 7 committee members. Determination of officers required and election of these officers. Patrons: Sir George Paton and Lady Paton. Address of the i.t.a. association is at 7 Victoria Cresent, Mont Albert, Victoria 3127 Telephone: (03) 89 1340, unitl 1981.
1975 First newsletter of i.t.a. Association. The Bullock Report 'A Language for Life' published. A Commission of enquiry on the teaching of reading in the UK.
1977 i.t.a. typewriter arrives in Australia.
1978 i.t.a. video 'i.t.a. in Australia' commenced by State Colleges of Victoria at Frankston and Melbourne.
1979 UK i.t.a. Federation formed to promote functional literacy and numeracy through the use of i.t.a..
1981 Visit by Jesse Lintern from the UK i.t.a. foundation.
1974- The i.t.a. Association address at Mont Albert, Victoria
1982 The i.t.a. Association address at 693 Lygon Street, North Carlton, 3054.
1993-1995The i.t.a. Association address at Unit 4/39 McLean Street, West Brunswick, 3055
Foundation Members and Patrons of the i.t.a. Association
Mr L. Emerson
Mr A. L. Harris
Mrs Kay Ross
Miss Noreen Seymour
Prof. K.B. Start
Miss Leonore Willis
Mrs Arlie B. Hargreaves
1995 Committee (in recess)
Miss Denise Hargreaves
Miss Leonore Willis
Miss Frances Guiney
Mrs Helen Weate
Mr Graham McGarvie
Mrs Sandra L. Wood
Mrs Arlie B. Hargreaves
i.t.a. Foundation United Kingdom
i.t.a. Foundation USA
Education Department of Victoria
Pitman House, Carlton, Victoria