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Please respond - who knows if their local authority is promoting interventions of the Reading Recovery and Catch Up type which are not in line with th

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by debbiehep, Oct 3, 2007.

  1. 000


    The teaching of synthetic phonics also doesn't really sit easily with learning through play in early years. Or, for some childre, reading for pleasure NOT having to decode every word they come across...how depressing.
  2. Have you tried it, 000?
  3. ECAR is not just for R and Y1 children, so may well need more than just phonics. Rose states in para 53 that phonics is
    ?a time-limited activity that is eventually overtaken by work that develops comprehension.?

    Many children who struggle with reading have a good grasp of basic phonics. What defeats them are letters with several sounds, such as ?water, swam ? should, shoulder?. They have problems with making sense of what they read.
  4. Mashabell - I haven't found that children struggle with words such as those you mention, when it comes to reading, if they are taught systematically.

    (It's a different matter when it comes to spelling though!)
  5. You are right about the Every Child A Reader initiative, msz, and we have already had a number of exchanged letters with Jean Gross about it.

    And Ed Balls.

    But the problem is that they will not engage with the question as to:

    Are they saying that the strongest schools and strongest pupils should receive instruction with the recommendations of the Rose Report and the weakest schools and the weakest pupils should receive reading strategies which the Rose Report rejects?

    This also means, as someone has flagged up on this thread already, that some teachers and teaching assistants are receiving training which is completely contradictory to the Rose recommendations.

    This is a mess.

    And what is very worrying and totally unacceptable, is that one person here reports that someone got ticked off for raising the issue of the contradiction.

    The government cannot have it both ways. They are trying to have it both ways. Some people in government are cosying up to the Reading Recovery people and charitable bodies with money and clout and trying to make political mileage out of this by saying, "Look at us supporting one to one tuition for these poor struggling children".

    And yet, according to the Rose Report, it is the methods of the Reading Recovery and Catch Up type interventions which are causing the problems and retarding reading progress in the first place.

    Even if we don't agree with the Rose recommendations that is not the point.

    The point is the contradiction.

    In effect, the government is not applying its OWN criteria for evaluating reading instruction programmes to its preferred intervention programme.

    Neither are the local authorities which support Reading Recovery and Catch Up.

    All I can do is to give those TES forum contributors confidence to raise this issue loud and clear.

    It's sickening the way that teachers are overwhelmed with initiatives and changes year in and year out. And then they are held accountable through Ofsted, local authority advisers and potential public humiliation through public reporting of their schools (with no right to reply).

    But my experience is that when ordinary people like me try to hold those in authority to account for their unaccountable and unprofessional actions, there is no mechanism to do so.

    Thus, when you discover that no matter how much you measure things, put your arguments and concerns forward professionally and ask simple questions, the bottom line is that 'accountability' is a one way street.

    All I can do, and people like me who are unhappy about this scenario, is to use the internet to keep raising this issue of inexplicable action over and again.

    One day, maybe, people will be strong enough to stand their ground, voice their professional views and apply that 'upwards accountability' that I occasionally pontificate about.

    I would like to know which person got ticked off for questioning the advice to apply guesswork reading strategies.

    I would like to support that person and take the adviser to task over his, or her, behaviour.

    And what about the poor little kids that get the short straw to be told to guess the words. In effect, they are invariably given books to read independently which their code knowledge does not match. They are told to guess the words, they are made to guess the words - and they can even become good guessers.

    But do you think that good guessing at infant level is giving the child the best foundational skills for literacy for the rest of that child's life?

    If my child or grandchild was being told to guess in schools, I would be there like a shot knowing what I know now.

    Imagine the school policy: "In this school, our policy is to give children books to read which are beyond their code knowledge and then we tell them to scan all over the page and guess the words that they don't know".



    And, no, my rant is not over. I hope it goes on until the day I die or until the day that all pupils get the best teaching.
  6. "My school does the OWL scheme which appears to contradict aspects in the rose report. I personally hate it anyway.But the SENCO PUSHES IT.literacy advisor trains the TAs and recently ticked one off for daring to question the guess the word, look at the picture etc strategies used."

    cally4 - post 12.

    Thank you for posting this information. I think it is very important information - and this is a very important event which I shall report further.

    It is not acceptable adviser behaviour and the top people need to know about it.
  7. Poppychick

    Poppychick New commenter

    Well our LEA advisor recommended the Lighthouse Guided Reading scheme that was slated on here and definately uses the searchlights model. We bought the scheme on their recommendation 2-3 years back.
  8. my authority actively promotes a reading intervention programme based on RR for Y1 pupils. It offers free training for TAs only and claims that with a very small amount of input each week there have been amazing results. they do however admit that for a significant percentage of pupils there is no improvement and blame this on home circumstamnces!!!!! It is very difficult to resist pressure to get involved in this- I can do so because of seniority/experience/qualifications and because of results we get with SP but I fear that many people cannot or will not stand up to the pressure and swim against the tide.
  9. 000


    helikettle - have i tried teaching phonics/blending/segmenting? Yes i do teach this, however in my experience it is not the primary method needed to learn to read. I think it is a strong strategy when learning to write however.
  10. 000 - am not sure I understand you. Blending is the skill that needs to be practised for reading - and for some children this needs to be done throughout the day whenever the opportunity arises. Segmenting is the skill required for spelling. It sounds as if your children get plenty of segmenting practice, and therefore are good spellers but not enough blending when reading through the word. If you are watering down the blending practice when reading, it's not surprising if some of your children are getting disappointing results. Isn't this a reason to jetison searchlights?

  11. Anyone who believes in the multi-cueing strategies and applies them in their classroom is simply not doing synthetic phonics teaching.

    Synthetic phonics teaching involves no guessing.

    So, no-one can claim to do both - that becomes 'mixed methods'.

    Whilesoever multi-cueing goes on, dilution and detraction from phonics teaching and blending is inevitable.

    You have a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Surely any teachers who argue for multi-cueing reading strategies cannot possibly claim to have done synthetic phonics teaching.

    I have never heard of, or heard from, a teacher who has genuinely changed to synthetic phonics teaching describe how they would return to mixed methods.

    I have heard from teachers all over the world, however, who have trialled synthetic phonics teaching and describe their "amazing" results.

    There are no children who benefit from guessing words because guessing is guessing.

    Apart from anything else, the guess is often a wrong guess and it also skews gaining the exact meaning of the text.
  12. 000


    I have yet to come across a good, interesting text that a child could access using blending alone. I do used mixed methods and the children in every class I have ever taught enjoy reading. The majority of them also acheive average or higher than average reading scores. So what have i done wrong? I am striving to teach the children to instantly recognise as many words as possible, and then to use blending to help them decode any unknown words. If I was trying to learn Japenese, I wouldn't be sounding out every word, I would be using as many cues as possible to make sense of a passage. Understanding, surely, is what reading is for.
  13. YOu write, OOO:
    'The majority of them also acheive average or higher than average reading scores.'

    It is surely the below average children we should be extremely concerned about? We know, only too well, what may be in store for them. It is mixed methods, that has damaged their chances. Surely it's not too much to provide good synthetic phonics teaching and provide good children's literature/stories/non-fiction. Struggling readers need good decodable material - and plenty of it. They become confused, panicked, defensive when confronted with 'words' they cannot decode. That's why people like me are asked to pick up the pieces in years 3-6.
  14. 000- please don't take this as personal because your messages are so plausible - just as the 'range of reading strategies' teaching approach can seem so plausible.

    But - perhaps what you have not taken into consideration fully enough is the ORDER of events for teaching and learning.

    It's a bit like that expression 'don't run before you can walk'.

    Synthetic phonics teachers would suggest that it is actually quicker and better to teach the children the alphabetic code and the skill of blending to a high level before even worrying about how 'interesting' or not, the content of the books children read are.

    We are saying that better code knowledge and blending skills enables the children to become more independent to read any text but that the route to access any text is to make them better blenders applying their code knowledge.

    It is clear from your last message that you perceive that children must be able to read any text and that is your priority over focusing on teaching code knowledge and blending skills.

    SP teachers would suggest that your priority is taking up time, and diluting the teaching and message of the importance of applying code knowledge and blending so that this becomes a visual circle.

    Not only that, we have tried to show that many of the books supposedly designed for early reading (not the decodable-designed type) don't even have great content in them anyway. There are loads of 'repetitive and predictable' reading books which are nothing short of 'toddler level' and they really don't have great content.

    The other thing is that our pupils are not deprived of any types of books at all, they just aren't expected to read through, word by word, independently, those books which are beyond their code knowledge.

    Finally (for now), may I comment that I am so pleased that you are continuing to post your views and experiences despite my forthright tenor. It is these type of conversations which help us to clarify what we all think, experience, and understand regarding the teaching of reading.

    Oops - really, really finally, about 'meaning' - when any child decodes a word that is in their 'oral vocabulary' they will extract meaning. This is more difficult for those children with English as an additional language.

    In other words, if a child decodes /d/ /o/ /g/ "dog" and knows what a 'dog' is, then meaning has been extracted from the act of decoding the word.

    When children are very young and text is just straightforward, meaning extraction IS totally supported by simply being able to decode the words.

    It seems to me that your understanding is based on the ultimate goal of recognising whole words instantly and therefore you are trying to jump your children to that position of recognising words instantly. You see 'decoding through blending' as a last resort and not a first resort.

    Please apply your theory to an equivalent adult reader. When you encounter an unknown word (which might be something like a Latin plant name etc.), then I expect you do "bluhh..." in your head to skip over it, or I expect you would have to apply your phonics and sounding out (in your head) to get the word as properly as you can.

    This, then, is an essential adult skill for new and unknown words.

    But when children start out on their journey to learning to read, all the words are new and unknown 'to read' and many of the words may also be new in terms of new vocabulary.

    The skill the children need, therefore, to serve them now and as adults, is the application of code knowledge and blending.

    It could be that you don't know how best to teach the Alphabetic Code and to match the reading words, sentences and text to support that teaching.

  15. 000


    The children who leave my reception class as below average readers are always either summer born children who are still developmentally pre-readers. There is nothing wrong with them, they are just not ready to begin reading independently yet. Or they are children who have a specific need, often meaning they find it very hard to blend sounds.

    If you truly believe that I teach my children to read wrongly because i think that the pieces can be picked up in KS2 i am insulted.
  16. "...this becomes a visual circle."

    Sorry- this should say, "viscious circle" - a bit of 'whole language' error slipping in there!
  17. I am certainly not trying to insult you at all.

    Your understanding about teaching reading matches, probably, most of the academics in this and other countries, it matches the people who wrote the original 'searchlights' reading strategies - and is probably the understanding currently of most of the teaching profession.

    In other words, you are not alone.

    I also agree that in terms of maturity, summer born birthdays do often simply need more time to get a grasp of reading.

    But, in those schools which apply rigorous synthetic phonics teaching, there is no issue with 'summer born' children at all. There is also no gender issue.

    You could even argue that 'the gender gap' and the 'summer birthday' gap IS caused by less than rigourous synthetic phonics teaching.

    Also, what do the summer borns then get when they move up to the next class. Do they get more synthetic phonics teaching - or do they tend to get more mixed methods teaching.

    (And, in any event, it does sound like you are applying mixed methods teaching in the first place and not synthetic phonics teaching per se).

    This, once again, is the viscious circle.

    It is also why we are so upset by the goverment promoting Reading Recovery type methods from year one. There are children in year one who, for one reason or another, are perhaps not up to speed with their peers.

    But is this a reason to do away with the application of code knowledge and blending - or reason to give them more code knowledge and blending?

    That is the fundamental question.

    The thing is, your understanding (and not just yours - loads of professionals) is heavily questioned by so many others who have now tried, for themselves, the synthetic phonics type teaching and been "amazed" at the difference in results for ALL the children - even when some were still further behind others.

    There are enough people even on this TES forum who can vouch for this change of results from a change in their methods.

    This is not the beginning of these arguments about teaching methods, this is a huge way into the arguments.

    So much so, that Jim Rose and his team looked at schools around this and other countries and saw with their own eyes the difference in the effectiveness of the teaching.

    He told me that the schools doing synthetic phonics rigorously where children mainly had English as an additional language were getting better results than those leafy suburb schools where English is the main language using mixed methods.

    The trouble is like any 'political' hot potato, people don't always feel free to say things in HARD WORDS exactly as they are.

    It was HUGE to achieve a national report which turned the 'searchlights' strategies into old news - a FLAWED approach to the TEACHING of reading.

    I wonder if you couldn't visit some of these schools which have changed entirely to synthetic phonics to see the results with your own eyes?

    What often skews the picture of what methods we should use is the fact that many children do seem to fare well, or at least 'get by' with mixed methods. This makes it all to easy to justify mixed methods teaching and to turn the 'reason' for some children not getting by so well on to other factors like them being summer-born birthdays or from not-so-literate families.

    If some schools report that a change of method has improved the results of their summer-born birthdays in the short and long term, does that not make you question your own practice and 'understanding'?

    You also have to consider that this is not about the calibre of the TEACHER - it is about the methods the teacher applies.

    Wonderful teachers can teach their hearts out with flawed methods and not appropriate resources and fail some of the children. This is the reality.

    The reason that English-speaking countries have such a high rate of illiteracy and semi-illiteracy is because of our complex Alphabetic Code and THE WAY IT IS TAUGHT



  18. 000


    That comment was a response to Woodpeckers post not your opinions. I recognise you are expressing an opinion on something you feel strongly about. I feel the same about many things to do with education and would argue my point as you do. I don't feel insulted by a fellow FS teacher expressing an opinion. debate makes us all better practitioners.
  19. 000


    Forgot to mention - the reason their is a gap with a lot of our summer born children is that we have staggered admissions. They are at school for only half the reception year. I think it would be impossible to close the gap entirely for all of them in 1 and a half terms.

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