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More rubbish: anti-phonics straw that broke the camel's back

 
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debbie



Joined: 08 Oct 2007
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Location: UK

PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:29 am    Post subject: More rubbish: anti-phonics straw that broke the camel's back Reply with quote

As anyone can see from my various postings, and from scrutiny of the media, and from other sources, the battle about what 'method' to teach reading (or rather should I say 'not' teach reading when so many poor kids have been left to deduce the alphabetic code and to 'pick up' reading for themselves over the years) - CONTINUES.

Quite frankly, I am sick and tired of all the anti-phonics rubbish written by so many supposed academics and others which appears in the media constantly.

I am sick and tired of all the crummy surveys that the anti-phonics brigade generate seemingly as an effective way of gaining media attention to promote their views or, in the case of the article below, a reading programme of some description.

It seems that the mere mention of a survey about phonics with some negative responses (which are based on opinion when all said and done) will guarantee hoo-ha in the media - no doubt with all the phonics-detractor folks rubbing their hands with glee.

In fact, I can almost feel them slavering with delight as yet another piece appears in the press under which they can all group together with no real awareness of how little they really know about real children and really effective teaching.

It's never just about anti-phonics, though, is it.

It's also about anti-government 'interference' and anti-being-told-what-to-do.

After all, how dare governments who supposedly represent the people care whether ALL the people's children are literate or not.

And how dare the governments concern themselves as to whether ALL the teachers and teacher-trainers are up-to-date with the research on reading and how most effectively to teach ALL the children.

And how dare the governments introduce tests to find out whether ALL the children are reaching minimum standards in the basics of literacy or not.

The frustration is that everything mentioned in articles like the one below needs a proper, informed response - and other than winging off yet another 'reader's comment' which gets lost amongst so many other comments (often also anti-phonics ramblings), there is never a proper opportunity to do this.

I can vouch for this personally having been invited to appear on various television news programmes and to speak via the radio on quite a few occasions - only to be discover that the media people DON'T REALLY WANT TO KNOW.

They are NOT SERIOUS about wanting to be informed, or to inform the general public properly - they just have a programme to produce - and it is to their agenda.

I have been disgusted on a number of occasions to find the information I so wanted to impart to address the issues raised end up on the cutting-room floor (yes, I know these don't exist per se).

In fact, media people often dupe those they invite to speak - and I am confident that this is regardless of the topic and the facts and information to be imparted.

I spend more time nowadays endeavouring to provide proper information to address this stream of anti-phonics rubbish - or misinformation - than anything else and it is very wearing - and it should be entirely unnecessary.

But worst of all, it is very upsetting.

The collective time and effort to have achieved these serious investigations into how best to teach reading - in the USA, in Australia, in England - is immeasurable.

To have achieved sensible conclusions based on research and leading-edge programmes and practice has been a humungous feat.

And the window of opportunity to get our children off to the best possible start - and to maintain that start - is lost for every child who is not taught WELL by the features we have confirmed over and again are important.

Whilst all these anti-phonics pieces continue, the need for systematic synthetic phonics TAUGHT WELL is without doubt being undermined.

The issue should now be HOW WELL student-teachers are being trained, HOW WELL systematic synthetic phonics is REALLY being taught in our schools and this includes for the quicker-to-learn children and the children who may have greater struggles.

Sir Jim Rose pointed out very carefully that it is the SAME alphabetic code and phonics skills for reading and spelling that ALL children need to learn for life-long literacy skills.

It really is as simple as that.

He also pointed out, however, and this has been embodied in official guidance subsequent to the Rose Report (2006) that there are approaches which SHOULD NOT be embodied in practice.

These are the multi-cueing reading strategies which amount to guessing words.

And yet, these strategies are entrenched in various intervention programmes, notably Reading Recovery which is a HUGE established organisation - and it is these strategies which many of our slower-to-learn children will be subjected to through various intervention programmes and practices as the will to address this has not been fully sustained.

Just because something is established, and huge, and influential, doesn't make it right.

So, the issue is HOW WELL can we teach and support children to learn the English alphabetic code (the MOST complex ALPHABETIC code in the world) and the requisite blending and oral segmenting skills.

All of this...some children need it, some don't, some will be damaged by this type of teaching...

IS NONSENSE!

And, contrary to what Estelle Morris is quoted as saying, the Labour and Tory (Coalition) governments are right to have taken a serious interest in WHY we have so many pupils going through years of schooling with weak literacy skills, and WHY our prisons are full of people with weak literacy skills.

To not have investigated this scenario would have been entirely irresponsible.

The issue is of national and international importance.

I am so disgusted by this almost daily undermining of phonics that I shall address all the points raised in this appallingly irresponsible piece by Richard Garner and then at least my interpretation is on easy-record and I can at least Tweet it (or whatever the expression is).

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/dyslexic-pupils-not-helped-by-reading-method-9223729.html
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK - Although I really don't have the time for this, I do know how important it is for SOMEBODY to keep addressing media reports such as this - and although I have done this many times already so am very well-used to addressing misunderstanding, misinformation, myths and downright mischievous commentary, I finally flipped this morning and this piece has made me particularly frustrated - perhaps because it follows so close on the tails of all the hoo-ha over the Andrew Davis 'pamphlet' in the media - Davis also suggesting that 'Systematic Synthetic Phonics' was almost child-abuse for able readers - and all the hoo-ha being made by the National Union of Teachers (and so many other organisations and individuals like Michael Rosen) about the 'imposition' of systematic synthetic phonics teaching and the Year One Phonics Screening Check.

Perhaps I'm galvanised because I have only just read Mike Lloyd-Jones very clear and readable book, 'Phonics and the Resistance to Reading' and because I can point to this book, it pre-empts me having to list all the facts and rational commentary that Mike so ably brings to the table.

Mike's book is a 'must read' if anyone would like to get a succinct overview and insight into the phonics detractors - and, thus, the 'Resistance' to reading. Mike does not get bogged down in the minutiae and the research references, which is why it is so straight-forward and easy to get the overall picture of the scenario through his commentary.

Please do consider reading Mike's book and, further, make it recommended reading in your school or setting - especially if you have a colleague or senior manager who is not into phonics and its importance. Thrust a copy in his or her hands! It should be compulsory reading for all student-teachers (actually, the lecturers themselves). If you take this issue seriously, order the hard copy book so that you can make notes and highlight all the arguments:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Phonics-Resistance-Reading-Mike-Lloyd-Jones-ebook/dp/B00F706P9I

What I am now going to do is to copy and paste the entire article from the Independent written by Richard Garner. Garner steps into this issue which he should arguably not have done - but by doing so, he has really demonstrated that he understands zilch about phonics! I have taken the entire piece paragraph by paragraph to address all the issues raised. This is not the first time I have had to address articles in this way - no doubt this will not be the last time:

Quote:
Dyslexic pupils not helped by reading method

Up to 400,000 dyslexic children may be hampered in learning to read by the Government’s insistence on the use of synthetic phonics to teach them, says a report to be published today.


What an emotive, attention-seeking irresponsible opening statement.

The 'Government's insistence on the use of synthetic phonics' to teach ALL children is the most important, historic move a government has ever made for education.

Furthermore, the children often identified as 'dyslexic' (at its simplest definition meaning difficulty with reading and/or spelling at word level) are the very children who most need very good, explicit synthetic phonics teaching.

Most worryingly, lack of good phonics teaching can actually cause or exacerbate what might be described as 'dyslexic tendencies'.


Quote:
A poll of more than 500 literacy teachers reveals that more than half (52 per cent) believe that the Government’s approach is either “ineffective” or “not very effective” in helping dyslexic pupils.


If this is the case, then 52 per cent of the teachers surveyed have just demonstrated their considerable lack of professional knowledge and understanding about reading instruction - for children of any ability or capacity to learn, including those with learning struggles.

Perhaps it demonstrates the teachers' lack of expertise - perhaps they themselves have not been effective when teaching children labelled as 'dyslexic'. The public should be very perturbed by this teacher-response.

Quote:
They believe that children with other disabilities and the most able pupils could also be held back. The poll, carried out by ReadingWise UK – designers of online literacy materials – casts doubt on the Government’s favoured strategy for improving reading.


Once again, this merely highlights their 'belief' and it should be concerning to the general public and to those supervising the teaching profession that some teachers may be unable to ensure that their systematic synthetic phonics teaching is meeting the particular needs of children with 'other disabilities' and 'the most able children'.

Quote:
“Literacy support needs to be tailored to the learning pace, experience and needs of the individual child – delivered by teachers with the appropriate specialist training to identify those who might struggle,” said Dr Tilly Mortimore, senior lecturer at Bath Spa University’s School of Education.


'Literacy support' should be tailored to the learning pace, experience and needs of the individual child - but this should not be 'delivered by teachers with the appropriate specialist training'. Indeed, ALL teachers need to be at the level of being able to 'identify those who might struggle' and then they should ALL be able to deliver the required literacy support.

In our infant classes of up to 30 children (30 children in England is the maximum number allowed in infant classes), every single child is 'an individual' and their learning capacities and their life experiences are wide and varied. This is THE NORM in class teaching. Teachers MUST have an expertise in teaching foundational literacy knowledge and skills to ALL their children WHATEVER their individual learning needs.

Quote:
“Neither children who are fluent readers, nor those at risk of Special Learning Difficulties/dyslexia or other reading disabilities are likely to find a ‘one size fits all’ intensive synthetic phonics programme helpful. Furthermore, the Government’s punitive testing regime risks undermining both teachers and learners.”


The logic is entirely wrong here - there is a ONE SIZE English alphabetic code to be taught and learnt and the SAME phonics skills for reading and spelling required to mastery are needed by ALL the children whoever they are. Rose points out that children should not be left to deduce or 'ferret out' the code on their own so it needs to be taught well. The pace and the timing of teaching the alphabetic code will not be the same for all children however- for example, some children need much more intensive teaching 'little and often'. Thus, as long as the Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme is content-rich with a strong approach to the teaching and learning (that is, genuinely a high-quality programme), the same programme should be suitable for all children - but adaptable in various ways according to need.

The 'Government's punitive testing regime' is not a punitive testing regime. This is simply not true. Mike Lloyd-Jones points out in his book that nearly all the words, for example, in the 2012 check included alphabetic code that should have been introduced in Reception with only five words including alphabetic code that should have been introduced in Year One. Thus, most Reception children should have been able to decode most of the words, let alone Year One children.

Further, the advent of the check has certainly focused teachers' minds on the quality and effectiveness of their phonics teaching as the year on year rise in results indicate. This can only be a good thing if more children have been enabled to decode simple words independently.

Quote:
The poll also found that only one in five teachers fully supported the Government’s new phonics test for six-year-olds, under which children are asked to spell made-up as well as real words. Teachers have complained that brighter children get the answers wrong because they try to turn every word into a real word. However, the teachers do believe that synthetic phonics has an important role to play in the teaching of reading, with fewer than one in three wanting to see the emphasis on it reduced.


There is no spelling in the phonics check (it is not a 'test'), there is only reading/decoding.

Where teachers have complained that brighter children get the answers wrong because they try to turn every word into a real word, this is (once again) a very worrying indication that teachers are not highly-trained enough to understand the research on reading and subsequent professional development. The children are told that the 20 made-up words are not real words and an illustration of a little alien is shown next to each 'made-up' word. It is a very worrying sign that teachers don't think their 'brighter children' should need to read words such as 'vap' and 'gark' accurately. It suggests that the children are being taught, or led, to read words through guesswork rather than careful attention to the code within the words and accurate decoding.

Quote:
Many said that an increased emphasis on synthetic phonics had led to a measurable improvement in their pupils’ reading standards – 81 per cent of teachers felt that it helped the average child.


This is still a worrying sign, as we should be looking for 100% of teachers noting that all children would have a 'measurable improvement' from the systematic synthetic phonics teaching - not just the 'average child' -and not just 81% of the teachers commenting thus. Once again this finding raises questions about teacher knowledge and expertise.

Quote:
Instead, they want a less prescriptive approach, with the overwhelming majority (98 per cent) believing that promoting “reading for pleasure” is the best way to encourage better reading standards. Synthetic phonics came fourth in the poll, with 79 per cent of teachers supporting it.


Teachers would want a less prescriptive approach if they fall into the group that seem only half-hearted about systematic synthetic phonics in the first place. They may also be amongst the group of teachers that simply don't like being told what to teach - especially if this flies in the face of their own beliefs and practices - and especially if it is hard work for them to be accountable for the effectiveness of their phonics teaching.

All teachers of course need to promote 'reading for pleasure' but this is really a fruitless ambition for those children who cannot lift the words off the page in the first place. Indeed, promoting 'reading for pleasure' whilst not teaching children to decode to levels of mastery as far as possible is self-defeating. If teachers really want to promote 'reading for pleasure' they should make sure that they are really the very best phonics teachers that they can be.

Quote:
They also express reservations about the national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds in English, saying there is “widespread scepticism” among secondary school teachers over the results. Only one in 10 said that they gave a reliable measurement of children’s ability. Teachers have claimed that “teaching to the test” becomes a test of memory, and means that children may not have absorbed the necessary background knowledge about the subject.


On occasions secondary teachers do report that the national curriculum test results for 11-year-olds may provide a false indication of their levels of literacy - but this may well be yet another indication that as some children get older, and the levels of the texts become more challenging, that they simply do not have good-enough alphabetic code knowledge and blending skills. For example, the kind of 'bright children' who take quick-stabs at the words in the Year One Phonics Screening Check to come up with an inaccurate word may well be the 'word-skippers' moving forwards. When words in the texts are not within the reader's oral vocabulary, they are not supported by any rational-guessing. They HAVE to have alphabetic code knowledge and the blending skill for life-long literacy - and yet many teachers themselves don't fully appreciate the 'phonics' that we call upon for our adult-level reading and writing.

Quote:
As a result of the Government’s reform of the national curriculum, which comes into force this September, primary school children must be taught to “apply phonic knowledge and skills as the route to decode words”. Pupils who struggle to decode and spell “need to be taught to do this urgently through a rigorous and systematic phonics programme so that they can catch up rapidly”.


This is the guidance we should have - and it's been a long time coming and hard-fought for.

Quote:
However, the report concludes: “While most teachers recognise the importance of synthetic phonics in teaching children to read, they see it as just one of a number of important strategies.”


This is simply not a good-enough, or clear-enough, statement when it comes to literacy. What is meant by 'a number of important strategies'?

Anyone who really knows and understands about the range of issues in the literacy debate should know that a universal 'range of strategies' means nothing - you have to list what you mean by this.

The 'range of strategies' for example, that amounts to multi-cueing 'word guessing' have been shown to be very damaging to many learners. These are the very same multi-cueing strategies embedded in intervention programmes such as Reading Recovery - the very programmes that we sacrifice our weakest learners to - often those labelled as 'dyslexic' and the subject of the headline of this article.

This is a HUGE issue and one which is yet to be clarified transparently in the political and educational domain.

If the 'range of important strategies' refers to language-rich, literature-rich experiences, focusing on vocabulary development, language comprehension, grammar and so on - then, yes, all these are very important complementary strategies.

Quote:
Victor Lyons, founder of the ReadingWise English literacy programme, said: “Phonics works well for most children but for those who struggle to read well it is really important to do more, using a range of educational and psychological techniques to suit the individual.”


I don't know what the 'ReadingWise English Literacy programme' consists of. But we certainly don't get to know what it consists of different from, or over and above, systematic synthetic phonics teaching. So, Garner's article has led to this programme via the undermining of the government's promotion of systematic synthetic phonics and the roll-out of yet another 'survey'.

Hmm...I'm beginning to see an interesting pattern here whereby so many organisations and individuals are promoting their own ideas, beliefs and practices on the back of surveys undermining one of the most important educational moves the government/s have made.

How ironic is that.

Shame on them all.

Quote:
Last weekend, former education secretary Baroness (Estelle) Morris said that it had been “wrong” for two parties (Labour and Conservative) to pledge that, if they won the election, teachers would be told to adopt synthetic phonics in the teaching of reading.


No - Estelle Morris is wrong. Nick Gibb MP, former Schools Minister, is hugely responsible for moving the need for systematic synthetic phonics forwards, and I know for a fact that he did not want this to be a party issue - that it was so important that all political parties needed to support it.

Shame on Estelle Morris - maybe she has this view influenced by the fact that she herself was a teacher with existing views of her own - she should know better.

Quote:
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: “In the past, far too many children left primary school unable to read properly. Our phonics programme is at last addressing this unacceptable situation. Research shows overwhelmingly that systematic phonics is the most effective way of teaching reading to children of all abilities, including dyslexia.

“Thanks to the phonics check, 177,000 six-year-olds will this year get the extra reading help they need to catch up with their peers.”


The DfE needs to be very careful not to allow systematic synthetic phonics to be undermined. All these surveys illustrate very clearly that there are MANY organisations determined to undermine phonics and government promotion of phonics - and many teachers who are still not properly trained or managing their teaching well enough.

Quote:
www.readingwise.com

A personal view

When it comes to recommending how teachers should teach I usually remain on the sidelines, thinking they know better than me what they should be doing.


Some clearly know better than you, Richard Garner, you have stepped over the line here and go on to demonstrate your own ignorance on this subject.

Quote:
So I didn’t have a strong personal opinion on the issue of synthetic phonics, until quite recently.


Ah, so now the Education Editor of the Independent has a 'strong personal opinion' on this subject thanks to one personal link to 'phonics' with a child.

Quote:
My partner’s grandson is a cocky, forward five-year-old who can read sentences and words quite fluently. Since starting school, though, he no longer points to an object such as a church and says “church” but “ch-ur-ch”. To my mind, that is not a step forward in his reading ability.


The child who points to a 'church' and says 'church' is a toddler just learning to speak and build up his spoken vocabulary.

The child who points to a 'church' and says 'ch-ur-ch' is demonstrating his ability to orally segment the spoken word which is a sub-skill of spelling. You seriously need to attend one of my training events at the very least, Richard Garner, - and start to read up on this subject.

Your partner's grandson needed praise for his ability to practise his sub-skill of spelling - and yet you wrongly saw this as a backwards step in his 'reading' ability.

You have just laid your lack of understanding about phonics to bare across the globe.

Quote:
Thus, I have some sympathy with the literacy teachers surveyed, who say that while synthetic phonics helps the majority it is not necessarily appropriate for either bright or dyslexic children.


I think I've said it all - you are not fit to be the Education Editor. Do your research.

But, you have inadvertently helped to show how easy it is to MISunderstand about phonics teaching and learning. If a portion of the teaching profession MISunderstands, it is not surprising if folk not in the general public MISunderstand.

However, beware. There are many knowledgeable parents out there - and they are often not so blinkered as some teachers and academics, and children's authors, and literacy organisation leaders, and teachers' union leaders, and intervention organisations, and Education Editors et al.

THEY GET IT.

Quote:
I think the former education secretary Baroness Morris summed up my thoughts last weekend when she said there was too much political meddling in education, adding: “You wouldn’t tell a doctor he had to prescribe penicillin for his patients".

Richard Garner


Oh for goodness sake.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thinking about it, this is a good place to provide this diagram of the three core phonics skills and their sub-skills:


http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Triangle_sub_core_skills.pdf


And here is the site where folk can download free Alphabetic Code Charts - according to their needs and context of course! Wink


www.alphabeticcodecharts.com


And this is one of the charts which includes the Systematic Synthetic Phonics teaching principles:

http://alphabeticcodecharts.com/ipa_pics_TrainingACC.pdf
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well - clearly I wasn't the only person who thought that Richard Garner's article 'Dyslexia pupils not helped by reading method' is very poor. Twitter-world is focusing on it this morning and Tom Bennett, Director of ResearchED, sees the article's weaknesses for what they are.

Thus, this is just one of his tweets about the article and using it to show the real need to take a more serious and responsible approach to research and research findings.

Here is one of Tom's tweets:


Quote:
Tom Bennett ‏@tombennett71 5h

Teachers: tired of piss-poor education/ research stories like this http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/dyslexic-pupils-not-helped-by-reading-method-9223729.html …?

Come to researchED https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/researched-2014-national-conference-tickets-11117852797?nomo=1

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm linking here to the thread I started on the Andrew Davis paper - another phonics detractor that claims he's not against phonics! Of course he isn't!

What an Orwellian world we live in.

'Doublespeak as described in Wikipedia:

Quote:
Doublespeak is language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g., "downsizing" for layoffs, "servicing the target" for bombing[1]), in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable. It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning (for example, naming a state of war "peace"). In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth. Doublespeak is most closely associated with political language.[2][3]


http://www.phonicsinternational.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=556

Why do I refer to 'doublespeak'?

Because all these phonics detractors undermine phonics teaching, promotion and assessment - and then have the gall to suggest that they're not actually against phonics per se.

Really?


Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Further commentary from Mike Lloyd-Jones via 'The Phonics Blog':

Quote:
Reading Wars Redefined


http://www.phonicsblog.co.uk/#/blog/4565770755/The-Reading-Wars-Redefined/7880796

I have to date never met Mike Lloyd-Jones although I know of him.

His clear commentary is most welcome regarding the continued and relentless subversion of phonics in the education, political and public domains.

Quote:
So perhaps the argument between the advocates of phonics and the supporters of ‘mixed methods’ is not really an argument about teaching approach at all. The dispute is really an argument about reading standards. Some of us believe that those standards can be radically transformed leading to something we could recognise as universal literacy. Some it seems believe that reading standards are not just ‘as they are’ but ‘as they have to be’. These traditionalists believe that improving literacy standards is impossible (some may even believe it is in any case undesirable). The stubborn clinging to guessing from pictures, context and other clues is not just a persistence of teaching habit. It is a persistence of low expectations.

According to a statistical briefing issued by the National Literacy Trust, one in six people in the UK struggles with literacy. Systematic, synthetic phonics is promoted by those who care passionately about that struggle and are determined to put an end to it. Anti-phonics propagandists campaign aggressively against the prospect.


[The emboldening is mine.]
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dr John Rack of 'Dyslexia Action' writes a letter to the Independent about the phonics-detraction article and points out that phonics has always been used for intervention:

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/ios-letters-emails--online-postings-6-april-2014-9241042.html

Quote:
Synthetic phonics, far from letting down pupils with dyslexia, is effective for the majority and, coupled with the phonics check, can help to identify those who may be dyslexic or need a different approach ("Dyslexic pupils not helped by reading method", 30 March).

Structured teaching of lettersound links and how to blend sounds were key components of "dyslexia teaching" long before synthetic phonics became commonplace in schools. We know that many pupils at risk of dyslexia can progress well with a structured phonics programme but would flounder if left to learn more holistically. To read in the broadest sense requires an orchestration of many other skills of which decoding is but one and, for fluent readers, one that they may seldom use; but decoding is a hurdle at which many children have fallen and it is right that early teaching of reading is directed at helping as many children over this hurdle as possible.

Dyslexia Action has supported the use of the phonics check, which involves the ability to read "non words", as part of a process to identify those who may need a different approach. However, it should not be the only piece of evidence used to examine children's reading. Neither should it force a straitjacket of prescriptive teaching on to those who have moved on to more advanced stages. Dyslexia Action has been working with the Department for Education to develop information and guidance for teachers on materials and on decisions about their use; more information about this can be found on our website.

Dr John Rack

Director of education and policy Dyslexia Action

Egham, Surrey


At last - someone else providing support for the Year One Phonics Screening Check! Very Happy

I think it is very unfortunate, however, that there appears to be a 'disconnect' between the programmes/practices/resources promoted, sold and used by the dyslexia organisations which don't necessarily correspond exactly with the mainstream SSP programmes - the latter of which arguably should be used for intervention also - infact, good use of the recognised SSP programmes (for example, those that passed muster for the government's phonics match-funded initiative) should prevent dyslexia or significantly reduce the effects of reading/spelling/writing muddlement.

The basis for teaching and learning should be 'keep up' and not 'catch up'.

This involves practice which may be more fine-tuned, one to one or small groups, more little and often - and definitely with core paper-based resources with learners building up their own phonics folders and exercise books. In an ideal world, provision should also be in partnership with parents or guardians.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a response to John Rack's letter in the Independent - revealing a commonly-held view that the complex nature of the English alphabetic code makes it unteachable. How ludicrous, however, to suggest that parents' love and attention will do the job of teaching reading and spelling. How many very loving parents have provided all the 'mother's knee' reading story-books and chatted incessantly with their children - only to find that those children still didn't magically become literate by 'picking up' reading and writing through experience.

We need to thoroughly unpick the complex code of the English writing system, and make it explicitly teachable in simple ways - and this is precisely what a systematic synthetic phonics programme does.


http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/ios-letters-emails--online-postings-13-april-2014-9256561.html

Quote:
Dr John Rack, using synthetic phonics, please try to say synthetic phonics. You can't. This proves the inadequacy of your system and adds to the belief that dyslexia labels people based on a shaky scientific concept (Letters, 6 April). The best help to a child's reading ability would be help, love and support from parents. A system that strives to help weaker readers through making illogical deductions based on words which within them have multiple pronunciations is just ridiculous. Their and there. Her and here. Nor and gnaw.

Simple is better, and a system of reading that exists only because of some poorly defined research conducted years ago will not, and should not, be used to destroy children's ability to read. It is better to teach children that certain words are read in a certain way because our language is full of illogical exceptions. Learning to read is hard work, much like everything else. Phonics downt maek it eezear. Thanx for yor tiem.

Adam Tunstall


Adam Tunstall is just plain wrong that 'Phonics downt maek it eezear' - in fact he has actually used a form of 'alphabetic phonics coding' to try to make his point!

Phonics does make reading and writing easier - and it is the basis of our writing system albeit the history of English has led to a complex alphabetic code. It is precisely because the English alphabetic code is so complex that we need excellent phonics programmes and teaching to teach it well.

He should see what good systematic synthetic phonics teaching is achieving nowadays in our infant schools for all of the children - even in nurseries in many cases.

Does Adam Tunstall think it is easier to teach the many thousands of words in our language word by word? It seems so.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe this charter is something to do with the National Unions of Teachers but I haven't spent any time exploring the situation.

This proposed 'Primary Charter' is packed full of misinformation about both the synthetic phonics teaching principles and the series of events which led to the government promoting systematic synthetic phonics. The movement is clearly headed-up by those who have a serious prejudice against both systematic synthetic phonics and anything coming from governments - the usual detractors. The authors simply do not know the systematic synthetic phonics teaching principles well enough - or the research which underpins the need for the approach:

Scroll down on the page of this link below to the section on phonics:

The Primary Charter

http://primarycharter.wordpress.com


Quote:
Phonics: myths and alternatives

FEBRUARY 3, 2014


Trust teachers – not the phonics fundamentalists


England is one of the few countries where politicians dictate to teachers how they should teach. Why do they think they know best?

A BBC News report has just highlighted the damage which results from following Government rules on teaching reading. It quotes the claim by Andrew Davis (Durham University) that a strict diet of phonics could damage children who are already on their way to reading.

It isn’t only the most advanced who will be harmed. Many children have never had the chance to enjoy picture books at home. The phonics fundamentalists want to deprive them of books until they have learned to pronounce the letters and blend them into words.

Andrew Davis argues strongly that reading is making sense out of print, not just pronouncing the letters.


Has the NUT leadership, Andrew Davis and the author/s of this piece not heard of the Simple View of Reading?

Or is it that they simply do not understand it - like everything else linked to phonics, research and reading instruction it seems.

I've just found a pdf copy of the 'Primary Charter' and I am amazed that it just seems like a bit of 'something or nothing' to be honest.

And why am I not surprised to see Michael Rosen heading up the signatories - he speaks vociferously against both phonics and governments!


http://primarycharter.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/primary-charter.pdf
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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is another sensible and rationale blog posting by Mike Lloyd-Jones via his 'Phonicsblog':

The Anxiety Makers


http://www.phonicsblog.co.uk/#/blog/4565770755/The-Anxiety-Makers/5435511

Quote:
But these phonic deniers evoke other associations that are more homely - they are strikingly reminiscent of the child in Hilaire Belloc’s poem who always kept a-hold of Nurse “for fear of finding something worse”. In the delusional world of the phonics-deniers, the shadow of the ‘something worse’ is menacingly plain on their nursery wall: phonics as bogey-man.

The phonics-deniers are haunted by their fears – children taught through phonics will be denied access to the world of literature, children who are taught phonics will be unable to understand what they are reading, children who are taught phonics are forbidden to look at print that is not decodable…


Please note how Mike's comments relate directly to comments made by others (phonics deniers) in my posting immediately above this one - note the anxiety-making comments in evidence!
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More anti-phonics incitement from Michael Rosen in the Telegraph:

Children are no longer encouraged to read for pleasure


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/10852437/Michael-Rosen-Children-are-no-longer-encouraged-to-read-for-pleasure.html

It's very simple - a child cannot read for a pleasure if a child cannot lift the words off the page.

Inability to read the words destroys children's self-esteem - it is utterly demoralising for a child to witness his or her peers making headway in reading whilst that child struggles with the same book.

Michael Rosen is an anti-government, anti-authority person at heart - he is not interested in the research and the realities.

Quote:
Rosen, 68, author of We're Going On A Bear Hunt, was Children's Laureate from 2007-09 and is a passionate campaigner for children's literacy.

Delivering the Hay Library Lecture, he said: "We're talking about reading for pleasure, but what an odd thing to have to campaign for.

"It's kind of like saying 'Let's campaign for air, or for nice soup'. You read, you have a good time. That should be the end of it."


Does Rosen know nothing about the misery of millions of children who have been left barely literate or illiterate because of failure to teach the children to read the most complex alphabetic code in the world explicitly?

Does he only read and write 'Bear Hunt' material and not bother to read about the international misery of children who cannot lift the words off the pages of 'Bear Hunt' or any other story book for that matter.

How will they get lost in the wonders of the story?

They are simply 'lost'.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yet another great and straightforward posting by Harry Webb on his 'Web of Substance' blog:

Decoding and Making Meaning


http://websofsubstance.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/decoding-and-making-meaning/comment-page-1/#comment-4826

Quote:
In a recent blog post, Michael Rosen asks whether being able to decode words is the same as understanding what they mean:

http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/is-decoding-same-as-reading.html?m=1

This is a common argument presented by those who are sceptical about systematic synthetic phonics as a method for teaching reading. It is also one that you will find in the literature, but Rosen does us the favour of arguing the point with clarity.


Does Michael Rosen deliberately, or through lack of understanding, misconstrue what the SP folk say or what they provide educationally for the learners in its entirety?

As he blocks posters and is impossible to have a conversation with, it is hard to know where he's coming from.

He's taken a stance - and that's that.

There's no explaining to him - he does not want to 'hear'.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm linking this thread to another thread focused on Gordon Askew's excellent blog about phonics. Gordon is an ex adviser to the Department for Education in England. He has vast experience of phonics at the highest level - programmes, practice and training provision. His postings are a 'must read':


http://www.phonicsinternational.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=662
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am reviving this thread because I see a need to do this.

In the past couple of weeks, two people unrelated to one another (in fact, from different countries) have flagged up the 2014 article written by Richard Garner which was the starting point of this thread:

Quote:
Dyslexic pupils not helped by reading method

Report reveals teachers doubt effectiveness of synthetic phonics as a literacy strategy for all


This illustrates the huge complications of the reading debate whereby pernicious and misleading material can be revived which maintains ignorance in the field of reading instruction.

One of the leads to Richard Garner's article originates from an organisation which is actually using the article to further its own methods and coaching. Truly scary. So, clearly, the article is not considered at all outdated or flawed - on the contrary, it has become a means to further the work of others. Oh my goodness.

I shall be writing more about this shortly.
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