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Reception timetable - phonics / literacy!

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by Miss.hendo, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. Literacy is essential in many measures of success and 'good quality of life'. But it is a big jump from saying that literacy is essential to saying that:

    • It is essential that pupils are taught synthetic phonics.
    • It is essential they are taught phonics from age 4.
    • It is essential that they are taught for 40 minutes each day.
    • It is essential that they take a phonics test in Y1.

  2. It is essential that they are all taught as well as they can be taught - and not just those most likely to survive on a more minimalist approach - or because they are advantaged by their home scenarios.

    As for the lifechance issue, I won't be drawn on your battle of words. Literacy is definitely a lifechance issue - try asking the high percentage of folk in prison who are barely literate or illiterate what it has meant to their lives.

    Try examining a common factor for many of the disaffected kids, many who truant and who become delinquent to a greater or lesser extent. No teacher should need to have explanations of these things, thumbie - surely.
  3. Alright, let's define life chance issues as those that influence social and economic outcomes advantageously. Will that definition be OK for you?

    Indicators of life chance are generally known to be set at a very early age, before age 3, and include family circumstances such as income and maternal education. They are known to be stubbornly unchanged by schooling. Are you claiming that phonics can have an affect on family circumstances, or can prove to be the holy grail enabling school to exert an influence not yet achieved? Grand claims. I wonder if you have any evidence.

    Nevertheless it is part of the remit of schools to do the best they can to redress social imbalances and give equal opportunities, so they have a duty to teach literacy as well as they can. Do we know that teaching synthetic phonics to small children for 40+ minutes per day is teaching literacy as well as we can? Do we know that it influences outcomes at a later date, ensuring good understanding of text and the ability to learn from text? Does it improve long term economic and social outcomes?

    As you have said before we are conducting a national experiment. Judging from this forum, admittedly a small sample, it would seem increasingly to be an experiment in formal teaching at ever earlier ages driven by the phonics agenda.
  4. Well - now we need to find out what you mean by 'formal teaching' which is often an expression used with derogative overtones - especially where little children are concerned.

    What does 'formal teaching' mean to you, thumbie? Your turn to define.

    If you mean 'explcit' and 'direct' and 'specific' and 'fit-for-purpose' and that each and every child gets to learn the code and to practise the three core skills and sub-skills properly...then great.

    Can teachers provide that even for littlies?


    Can they have a fab relationship with the children and share with them the joy they EACH exerience when they feel themselves learning - Yes!

    Can some teachers teach children more effectively with their phonics teaching without neglect of other aspects of early years provision? Of course.

    Would the children and their parents thank the most effective teachers that set up the children with a cracking start with their reading and writing? Absolutely.
  5. I wouldn't use 'formal teaching' as synonymous with 'explicit', 'direct', 'specific' and 'fit for purpose'.

    Explicit teaching can happen equally in formal and informal environments.

    Direct teaching is arguably more easily achieved in informal rather than formal settings as an adult can engage with children and their learning with more immediacy. But I would agree that formal teaching is often 'directive'.

    Specific teaching can happen informally or formally. In informal teaching the teacher might use a specific resource for children to access and explore, identifying a specific skill set that could be developed or practised. In formal teaching the specific is more likely to be a circumscribed skill or fact. The end product might be more clearly 'specified'.

    'Fit for purpose'-obviously it depends on the purpose. Depending on the purpose informal or formal methods may be better/less good.

    So using these epithets to describe formal teaching is misleading.

    I would define formal teaching as characterised by teaching led by the teacher, who has a set objective, usually with a group or whole class of children who do as they are directed. By its nature formal teaching is generally more sedentary than informal learning, but it does not have to be. It is more concerned with the transfer of knowledge than the discovery of knowledge, more likely to involve practice of specified skills.

    I don't regard 'formal teaching' as having derogatory undertones, and it can be fit-for-purpose in early years if carefully controlled in terms of how and why used. It suits the teaching of synthetic phonics, if used in short bursts. Informal teaching can also be used for teaching synthetic phonics.

    For many young children skills of sitting still, listening and following instructions have to be developed before formal teaching can be successfully used (become fit for purpose). Teachers, simply because they know their pupils and interact with them on a daily basis, are well able to judge when and whether pupils will and will not benefit.
  6. thumbie said:

    "Teachers, simply because they know their pupils and interact with them on a daily basis, are well able to judge when and whether pupils will and will not benefit."

    Not necessarily, thumbie, it depends on any pre-conceived ideas about early years provision, experience of little children - and ethos. It also depends on the dominance of people seen to be in authority.

    We have a prevailing ethos in the early years - a dominant ethos which implies that only some people know about child development and child learning - and the people who are the 'knowing ones' are the ones who follow the advisory ethos of child-initiated, learning through play, discovery learning, informal one to one or small group activities and so on (oh - and don't forget indoor/outdoor freeflow no matter what the weather!).

    Too many early years providers, for a number of years, have looked over their shoulder worried about what is 'right' and what Ofsted might want to see and what their local authority early years advisors might want to see - regardless of the needs of the children in the context or the wishes and thoughts of the parents themselves (for example, parents who have enriched children's experiences well at home and would like their children to be taught and not always left to play and choose).

    I don't think that all early years teachers always provide according to their own knowledge, experience or ideas about the early years and I don't think they always know what children could do given a chance - or some teaching and practice.
  7. Yes, of course the establishment has an influence. In fact it is the establishment which at present is pushing for greater formality and for phonics. The establishment is not wrong by virtue of being the establishment, but can be wrong and definitely can be affected by political pressures. This is one reason why it's important that teachers, especially early years teachers, have knowledge of child development, value reflective practice, and, dare I say it, take a critical view of fashions.
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    yes if only we hadn't followed those silly whole word and three cueing fads ...and stuck with what had worked for centuries.
  9. Did you follow all that Msz?
  10. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    [​IMG]I was agreeing with your final point about fashion
  11. Did you follow it?
  12. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    The part about teachers being at the will of the government, LEA, SMT and uncle Tom Cobly?
  13. No, as in "those silly whole words and three cueing fads". Did you follow the 'fad'?
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    No thumbie I've taught phonics the whole of my teaching career
  15. Do you have any experience of following the literacy strategy?
  16. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    No we didn't follow the literacy strategy or the literacy framework or Letters & Sounds or guided reading or searchlights or ...
  17. Would you say you have no practical experience of any literacy initiatives except synthetic phonics?

    Edit: linguistic phonics?
  18. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    No thumbie would you?
  19. So where did you get your practical experience?
  20. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    The literacy strategy was only introduced in 1998 thumbie I was teaching before that

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