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Phonics and reading schemes, what do you use/have?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by minnieminx, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Our governors and SIP have decided we need a reading scheme throughout the school, based on the poor practice of a few teachers.

    As KS1 teachers were a keen to update and improve phonics.

    We had a rep in from phonics bug and liked the resources, but the planning wasn't quite what we wanted. Reading scheme to year 6 was fab though.

    We had a rep in from floppy's phonics, but the reading books were less good (ORT and projectX), though the GR notes for teachers and assessment bits were fab for management. The phonics plans were acceptable, though not perfect.

    A couple of us use phonicsplay plans at the moment and would like practical resources to go with it to then make our own phonics scheme, though management less keen as they don't have so much control.

    Sooo what do those of you in excellent schools do? And does projectX appeal to girls as well, it looked very boy orientated?

    Sorry for all these questions, but I want to argue against the schemes we have looked at so far and so need some 'evidence' that other things work.
  2. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Project X was written for boys but our girls love it (we've been using it for two terms) but we also use Sounds and Letters Floppy's phonics, Phonic Bug, Songbirds, Rigby Star Phonics, Big Cat Phonics, Rag Tag Rhymes .... Bug Club, All Stars, Treetops, Rapid (I'm going to invest in some of the new Rapid Phonics)
  3. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    WOW! Covering all bases then...

    Do you write your own plans for phonics at school incorporating all these, or follow a set?
  4. terri1972

    terri1972 New commenter

    Just about to re-implement RML (now known as Read Write Inc)
  5. What happens in excellent schools depends on how you define ;excellent' schools. If you mean schools that get all their pupils to Level 4/5 English, they don't rely on any 'phonics' strategy whether synthetic or analytic. They accept that schools are Educational and not Training establishments. They know that the solution to illiteracy cannot be by confining children's learning to read within the rigid rules of grapheme/phoneme correspondences but by opening their minds to inspirational ideas in books. That is after all how all todays adults and teachers learned to read.They certainly did not learn by synthetic phonics.
    All promoters of failed strategies always blame teachers when their pet strategy does not work. The leading lights in Synthetic Phonics are no exception to this rule. They also recommend that children should be prevented from having access to books until they have completed their training in grapheme/phoneme correspondences! There is no need to look for excuses if teaching children to read by reading fails because it never fails. When it is used in Year 6, virtually every child gets a Level 4 of higher English pass - no excuses necessary.
    In 1939, one child in five left school unable to read or write confidently. In 2010, the government statistics show that nothing has changed.
    When will we every learn that allowing 100,000 chldren to leave school illiterate every year is not acceptable? Stop trying to train children - it doesnt work! Try educating them instead!
  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We produced our own school specific phonics "programme" (working with Ann Foster) setting out what is taught in each term/year group and we teach phonics right up to Y6 but by KS2 it obviously focuses on spelling rather than reading.
  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Where on earth did you get that idea?
  8. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Errr a great many do use a phonics scheme/strategy. And by excellent I mean one where children make good progress and teachers are happy and confident teaching phonics.
    Really? How odd that they should publish books for children unable to read yet, or for those who only know a handful of letter sounds.
  9. From Jenny Chew of the Reading Reform Foundation, the leading pressure group for synthetic phonics. At that time, it was also their stated objective that Synthetic Phonics should be compulsory in all schools and that heads should not be allowed to override this. They may have changed their minds - I haven't looked at the site in years.
  10. For me, an excellent school is more closely defiined. It is one in which virtually all children acheive Level 4 English or higher at Key Stage 2 - no excuses - no blaming teachers for not teaching phonics correctly - no blaming pupils for not being clever enough to learn to read by the phonics route - just objective results - ie proof positive that the children are able to read and write confidently. That a child has 'made good progress' can mean all things to all men. The sad fact is that the almost 10,000 children who fail to achieve Level 4 or higher at KS2 go on to be the same 100,000 who leave school unable to read and write confidently. They form the 50% of prison populations who are illiterate and place the highest financial burden on the social and justice services.
    Why, given the near universal focus on 'phonics' are literacy results not moving at all. People talk about 'good progress' but this is not reflected in the Key Stage 2 results. 20% still leave school unable to read and write confidently. You can't have it both ways. Either the majority of teachers are not using phonics correctly or the phonics strategys is a confidence trick for which no proof of effectiveness exists.
    Surely schools should use 'educational' and not 'training' strategies since educational strategies rely on opening the mind to inspirational ideas and not on the rote learing that stultifies the mind.

  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    In that case my school meets your and minnie's definition
  12. Wow, we meet your desire AND we use synthetic phonics. We even used it before it was called synthetic phonics ( looking at different spelling patterns to help reading and spelling).
    Many more of our lower ability children become successful readers when they learn by something systematic, that works, instead of having to guess or learn by a different method every time they changed class.
    Please quantify virtually - I hate these unspecified numbers. Virtually all our children reach L4 or higher. I can't say, though I wish I could, that 100% of our children always reach level 4 or higher but some years we do. You obviously haven't discovered a way to do that or you too would be charging incredible sums so that people could follow the teachings of Eddie Carron.
    I'm going to put '
    on the noticeboard for all the parents who disagree with us asking the children to rote learn tables, spelling patterns and ways to interpret a map ( seriously - they think we should use SATNAV) when we are investigating life in other countries.
    It's just the sort of waffle they will love to quote back at us.
  13. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    There are some schools near me who would be terrible schools if their highest ambition was for all children to achieve level 4 in English. There are a fair number in my county who generally achieve 100% level 5 in all subjects.

    As the drive for proper phonics teaching has not been about for long enough to see results in year 6, it isn't fair to say phonics doesn't work. It needs those who started in nursery in maybe the 2nd or 3rd year of systematic phonics teaching to get to year 6 before we start to see a difference or not.
    Schools did that a lot in the 70s. It also didn't raise literacy levels.
  14. You're probably right. Everything in the garden is wonderful. Phonics is the way forward to achieve the standards of literacy that children need to function well in society. But another 100,000 children will leave school in July unable to read and write confidently and the year after that, another 100,000 and the year after that another 100,000 and so on ad nauseum.
    As long as we keep our heads buried deeply in buckets of sand called 'phonics' we will be blissfully unaware of what is happening in the real world. Never mind. Lubbly jubbly!

  15. another 100,000 children will leave school in July unable to read and write confidently and the year after that, another 100,000 and the year after that another 100,000 and so on ad nauseum.
    All the stats suggest u are right.
    Could it possibly be that the inconsistencies of English spelling are largely responsible for it?
    Even if some primary schools manage to push all their children up to level 4 in English, at a great cost to many other things, might they simply push them to the limit of what they are capable of?
    Could it be that most children can memorise spelling quirks for a substantial number of the 3695 common words which have them, but then can't take any more, being put into a muddle about what they learned early by the exceptions which they have to learn later?
    Quite a few kids manage grade 3 violin and piano, but just can't get beyond that.
    Might English spelling pose similar barriers?
  16. You are quite right that the vagaries of English orthography are the reason why20% of children fail to become literate adults and that is the status quo to which our professional rsponsibilities require us to respond. Over the past decades this response has been variations on the phonics theme and it just hasn't worked. The school leaving stats are not 'evidence' of this; they are proof positive. One child in five continues to leave school illiterate.
    Some schools manage to push their children to Level 4. There is no question of some schools pushing their children Level 4 - When phonics is abandoned and replaced with teaching reading by reading, the children themselves set the pace - they get the bit between their teeth and there's no stopping them. No-one reads by decoding graphemes - if they did the amount of phonics being taught would ensure that every child could read fluently but they can't in spite of the phonics onslaught - 100,000 children still leave school illiterate.
    Might English spelling pose similar barriers? Intellect is a barrier to the internalisation of concepts - it is not a barrier to the acquisition of skills which is limited only by motivation. Seeking to motivate children to read by phonics exercises is a contradiction in terms.
    At the start of Year 3, most chldren have had 3 years of phonics and only 80% read to the expected level. That is precisely the same percentage that could read in 1939. Does it not make sense to try another strategy - particularly one which guarantees that virtually every child becomes confident at reading and writing or is it better to carry on with the same strategy that is failing them. Three years of phonics is the equivalent of a degree level course. When do we arrive at a point at which we say enough is enough and consign phonics to the dustbin of history where they belong? I can assure your that no school which tries the alternative goes back to phonics! Their Key Stage 2 results are too good.

  17. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    You seem to be doing just that (well more fingers in the ears while singing la la la) because you are ignoring experienced teachers telling you that they are achieving those results with a phonics approach.
  18. Funnily enough, just giving my dyslexic brother books did not teach him to read, no matter how inspirational the books were. The school didn't use synthetic phonics back then, so my mother read up about phonics and taught him using flash cards. He's now a fluent reader. You can't just expect every child to be able to decode words through immersion in books.

    Did they have the same number of special needs children in mainstream education then?
  19. The 20% of children who were failed in the 60/70s were failed for the same reason they are failed today – there was a common perception that readind and decoding were one and the same thing.
    The Chinese read the same as we do – they look at text and retrieve the meaning which it encodes- however it is encoded. We happen to encode it one way and they happen to encode it another way.
    I believe our way is better – they believe there way is better but either way, we read by recognising words either as ideographs or phonic constructions. Do you believe that you read by decoding every grapheme?

    Ultiamtely, the systems we use now are no more successful than any previous system or liek in Finland, where they have no system at al. Every teacher does his or her own thing but becasue their orthography is completely phonetic it doesnt matter. The Finns still read, as does everyone, not by serially decoding graphemes but by recognising words.

    Even in the UK, we will come eventually to acknowledge this - eventually when we adopt truly professional standards and insist on using strategies which have been 'proven' to work - thats what professions do and we will recognise them becaue our literacy stats will demonstrate their effectiveness.

    I'm off to lunch.
  20. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I don't think anyone has ever believed that decoding is the complete picture but it is a good place to start. If you can't decode the words you can't gain meaning from the text and you can't read.

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