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Ofsted: Stoke-on-Trent report on reading - a 'must read'
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debbie



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:10 pm    Post subject: Ofsted: Stoke-on-Trent report on reading - a 'must read' Reply with quote

Ofsted (the inspectorate in England) has gone to some lengths to highlight different approaches to teaching reading in a sample of different primary schools with an attempt to include what works well and should be provided for early literacy provision - and what does not work well and is neglectful:

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/ready-read-how-sample-of-primary-schools-stoke-trent-teach-pupils-read

Quote:
Ready to read?

How a sample of primary schools in Stoke-on-Trent teach pupils to read

Too many children in Stoke-on-Trent do not read or write well enough by the time they leave primary school. Stoke-on-Trent is in the bottom fifth of local authorities in England for the proportion of children achieving the expected standard of Level 2 or above in reading and writing at Key Stage 1.

Of the 23,300 children attending a primary school in Stoke-on-Trent, over 7,000 go to a school that is judged inadequate or as requires improvement. Between January and March 2014, Her Majesty’s Inspectors undertook a small study of how reading is taught in a focused sample of 12 primary schools in Stoke-on-Trent and the extent to which these schools were prepared for the introduction of the new national curriculum programme of study for reading in September 2014.

The findings of this study reveal that reading was not taught well enough in seven of the 12 schools and that six were not well prepared for the requirements of the new national curriculum.


What clear messages does this report give us?

I shall develop this thread to highlight the messages.

It was 'statistics' which appear to have triggered this Ofsted inspection - a look at the bigger picture and comparing the Stoke-on-Trent schools' results to other schools in the bigger picture. So, the Ofsted report starts off by providing information about this bigger picture.

When you start to read about the schools which were inspected, however, please note the particular style of Ofsted reporting which switches to examples at the level of looking at the 'minutiae'. By that I mean observing and describing individual children reading - how a child reads, the background of the child and school context, the child's reading habits (or reading reflex).

Thus, what we have is a great contrast ranging from the cold, hard statistics of the bigger picture to close scrutiny and description of real children at one moment of time with an accompanying explanation in order for us to get a fuller understanding of Ofsted's analysis of the situation.

This is precisely what we need when it comes to looking at the issue of reading methods and reading provision - and their effects in terms of cold, hard statistics on the one hand - and on the other hand the effects on the reading profile of actual children as individuals
.


Quote:
Introduction

There were 77 primary schools, including 22 primary academies, in Stoke-on-Trent at the end of February 2014; of these 67 had nursery provision. There has been a long history in the city of the local authority funding nursery provision; full time nursery provision continued to be funded from 1997 when Stoke-on-Trent became a unitary authority. In 2013, literacy levels at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) in Stoke-on-Trent were in line with those seen in the rest of the West Midlands region and in England as a whole. This is in contrast to Key Stage 1 reading and writing results, which have lagged behind those in the rest of England for the last five years.

The table and graph below detail the gap in literacy outcomes for pupils and students at all stages of their compulsory education in Stoke-on-Trent and provide the rationale for this study. Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) wanted to understand why standards in reading in Stoke-on-Trent were so low.


To see the 'table and graph' go to the full report, link above.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Findings

 In seven of the 12 schools visited, the teaching of reading required improvement or was inadequate. Inadequate teaching of reading was observed in all of these seven schools, notably in Key Stage 2, Year 1 and, to a lesser extent, the Early Years Foundation Stage. Consistently weak teaching of reading was observed in three of the seven schools.

 In the five schools where the teaching of reading was judged to be good, children got off to a flying start learning to read in the Early Years Foundation Stage and their early success was built on in the following year groups.

 Lesson observations indicated that the teaching of reading was marginally better in the Early Years Foundation Stage than in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

 All the 11 primary schools with Key Stage 1 provision taught phonics (letters and the sounds they make) in Reception and nine taught phonics in Nursery.

 Not all the schools taught early reading using phonic decoding as ‘the route to decode words’, as required by the national curriculum 2014. Three headteachers were unaware of this requirement in the new programme of study.

 Almost all of the schools visited used a range of early reading books to teach young children to read. Many of these books, however, were not ‘closely matched to pupils’ developing phonics knowledge and knowledge of common exception words’. In other words, the books used did not support young children to practise and apply the phonics they were learning.

 Four of the schools did not send home phonically decodable books so that children could practise their new knowledge and skills at home.

 The teaching of phonics was not always of good quality and pupils did not progress quickly enough in several of the sessions observed.

 In almost all of the schools visited, the teachers observed did not teach children to form the letters correctly when they taught the sounds. In these schools, teachers did not link the teaching of early reading with that of early writing well enough. The interpretation is that they failed to understand the vital contribution of phonics to spelling.

 The general picture emerging from the schools visited was of a decline in attention to the teaching of reading as pupils get older. Too few of the schools visited taught reading well at Key Stage 2.

 In almost all of the schools visited, the main vehicle for teaching reading at Key Stage 2 was a daily, guided reading session. In the less effective schools this was rarely of good quality.

 Teachers in Key Stage 2 rarely provided sufficient guidance to pupils about their wider reading. Too little thought was given to ensuring that pupils read a broad range of books and, in most of the schools visited, pupils in Key Stage 2 did not read enough books.

 Some schools did not always cater well for older pupils whose reading skills were weak. Five of the schools did not check the phonic skills of older pupils in Key Stage 2. In these schools, teachers’ knowledge of how children learn to read and how reading should be taught as they get older was observed to be insecure.

 In four schools, low expectations of pupils’ reading skills limited their progress: if pupils were making expected progress overall from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2, leaders and teachers considered this to be sufficient, even if pupils’ reading attainment was lower than average and the gap between the schools’ reading results and the national figures were not closing.

 The assessment of pupils’ reading was over-reliant on teacher assessment in most of the schools. Although commercial, standardised reading tests to assess pupils’ reading ability were typically in use, few used the results to triangulate teacher assessment with other forms of assessments. Two schools reported using the information as a management tool to check the progress made by all pupils and to hold teachers to account. Only three of the schools visited reported the reading ages of pupils to their parents.

 Too few of the senior and middle leaders in the less effective schools visited monitored directly the teaching of reading, especially in Key Stage 2.

 Although nine of the 12 schools had a whole school reading policy that ‘set out’ how reading would be taught from the Early Years Foundation Stage to Year 6, most of these policies were vague expressions of intent rather than ‘non-negotiable’ directions. In three schools, decisions about how reading was to be taught and how often pupils read or were heard to read by an adult were left to the discretion of individual class teachers.

 Six of the schools visited were ready to implement the 2014 national curriculum programme of study for reading.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Recommendations

Schools and academies in Stoke-on-Trent should:

 ensure that senior leaders, teaching staff and support staff are familiar with, and prepared for, the requirements of the 2014 national curriculum programme of study for reading

 ensure that phonics knowledge is taught as the main strategy for teaching early reading ‘the route to decode words’

 begin to teach phonics in Nursery classes, where schools have them

 improve the skill levels and competence of teachers and support staff to teach phonics, early reading and reading with older pupils

 ensure that the correct letter formation is taught at the same time as the letter-sound and that pupils are taught to sit correctly at a table, holding a pencil comfortably and correctly

 pay more attention to the correct enunciation of sounds by pupils and adults

 ensure that all children learning to read are given decodable reading books that is, books that are ‘closely matched to pupils’ developing phonic knowledge and knowledge of common exception words’ to read in school and practise at home

 improve the teaching of reading at Key Stage 2, especially the rigour of guided reading sessions; ensure that all pupils in Key Stage 2 receive clear guidance about the volume, range, quality and challenge of books they read; improve the wider provision for reading at Key Stage 2, for example the use of school libraries

 improve the assessment of pupils’ attainment and progress in reading, especially at Key Stage 2

 improve the leadership and management of the teaching of reading: ensure that there is a whole-school policy in place that states clearly how reading will be taught at each stage; set higher expectations for the amount of progress pupils should make in reading; hold teachers to account for the progress that pupils make in reading

 improve communication with parents about how their children are taught to read and the progress they make; clarify and explain to parents, staff and pupils the reading behaviours and routines expected.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The national curriculum in England 2014

From September 2014, maintained schools in England will be legally required to follow the statutory national curriculum, which sets out in programmes of study, on the basis of key stages, subject content for the subjects that should be taught to all pupils.

The national curriculum in England states that the programmes of study for each national curriculum subject set out the ‘matters, skills and processes’ to be taught at each key stage. Schools are free to choose how they organise their school day, as long as the content of national curriculum programmes of study is taught to all pupils.

The introduction to the national curriculum programmes of study states that ‘schools should do everything to promote wider reading’. The introduction makes clear that teachers should develop pupils’ reading and writing in all subjects to support their acquisition of knowledge and pupils should be taught to read fluently, understand extended prose (both fiction and non-fiction) and be encouraged to read for pleasure. Schools should provide library facilities and set ambitious expectations for reading at home.

The introduction also states that the programmes of study for reading consist of ‘two dimensions’:

word reading and

 comprehension (both listening and reading).


The framework stresses the importance of emphasising phonics in the early teaching of reading to beginners (i.e. unskilled readers) for both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words.

It also emphasises how good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Pupils develop comprehension skills through high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. This is why all pupils must be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum.

As the framework states:

‘It is essential that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education.’

www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-curriculum.

The programme of study for reading builds on the findings of the ‘Independent review of the teaching of early reading: final report’ (the ‘Rose review’), which highlighted the need for schools to adopt ‘the simple view of reading’ – that is, a focus on decoding words and developing comprehension. This is not new guidance to schools: the Rose review was published in 2006. In addition, Ofsted’s report ‘Reading by six’, which was published in 2010, has already demonstrated what good practice in the teaching of reading looks like.

Alongside the primary investigation of early literacy teaching in Stoke schools, this study also explored the extent to which schools in Stoke understood the requirements of the new framework and how well they were prepared to teach the statutory content of the new programmes of study.

HMI and local authority officers, therefore, sought to address two key questions:

 ‘How are pupils in the Stoke-on-Trent primary schools visited taught to read?’

 ‘How well are the primary schools visited prepared to teach the September 2014 programme of study for reading?’
The answers to these questions were explored through focused visits to 12 primary schools in Stoke-on-Trent.


I provide a diagram of the Simple View of Reading and the Simple View of Writing via my 'Free Resources' webpage:

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

And here is a straightforward explanation of the two dimensions - word reading and language comprehension - and the importance of 'chatter' and 'book' which may be useful for parents:

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/FR_PI_About_teaching_reading_spelling.pdf
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Almost all schools in this survey did not teach phonics as ‘the route to decode words’ as required by the national curriculum in England 2014.

Three of the headteachers in this sample were unaware of this requirement in the new programme of study. The teachers spoken to were positive about phonics as an approach to teaching reading, but in the majority of schools other approaches, such as a focus on sight vocabulary or picture cues, were taught alongside phonics.

This finding reflects the findings of the evaluation report carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NfER). The guidance to schools makes clear that phonics alone should be taught initially and that teaching other strategies alongside phonics is not recommended.

Case study of weaker practice

Reception class

The teacher drew the children’s attention to the bold writing on the front of the book and asked them why it was in bold letters; they looked bemused. When they began to read and were not able to blend sounds into the correct word, she asked them to be ‘picture detectives’ rather than supporting them to try again or demonstrating to them how to break down the sounds in the words. The whole book was completed in this manner.

What the example above might reveal is that the teacher’s subject knowledge is either limited or she has only a passing commitment to teaching phonics as the route to decoding and early reading. By asking pupils to focus on the pictures, the teacher denies pupils the opportunity to practise blending sounds and succeeding as readers; yet ‘all beginner readers have to come to terms with the same alphabetic principles if they are to learn to read and write.’ There is no guarantee that the picture will contain any clues to help decode specific words; some pictures may not directly relate to the text.


My article in SEN Magazine refers to the findings of the NFER mentioned above. This article can be viewed online here:

https://www.senmagazine.co.uk/articles/articles/senarticles/where-next-for-phonics
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Organisation and environment

Frequent weaknesses were observed in the teaching of phonics to Nursery and Reception children. Dividing children into groups meant that children were taught in a range of different places; some were not conducive to good learning.

Where groups were taught in the same room, noise from one group hindered the ability of the other to listen carefully to the sounds. Similarly, when children were taught phonics at different times of the day while other children worked at different tasks, noise interfered with teaching and learning.

Inspectors observed early years environments where there was very little evidence of children learning and rehearsing a wide range of stories, rhymes and songs.

They saw rooms that were cluttered and untidy, where book and story displays were uninviting or that had no quiet reading areas.

In contrast, other EYFS rooms had displays that promoted reading and supported themes that were all linked to literacy work. In these environments, children also had access to listening centres to listen to, and rehearse, stories and rhymes.

Case study of good practice

The EYFS was a language-rich environment, including outside. There were plenty of captions and labels, plus displays of the letters that the children had been learning, indoors and out. Displays were eye-catching and at children’s height. Children listened to stories twice a day at least, and there was a rhyme of the week that they learnt with support from parents. Some of the phonics teaching happened outdoors, as appropriate.

In one high performing school, where the teaching of reading was consistently good, the EYFS environment was arranged to support children in their reading and acquisition of phonics.

Displays focused on developing literacy skills and sounds were displayed on the walls to help pupils with their learning. A large number of the day’s activities focused on phonics and early reading. As a result, pupils were positive about reading and most read widely and often. A similar picture emerged in all the more effective schools: the EYFS environments were clean, uncluttered and phonics- and language-rich; reading activities punctuated the daily rhythm.

The more effective schools made good use of the wider environment in the early years classrooms and outdoor areas to support the teaching of reading and phonics. This included:

 incorporating physical activity into phonics teaching sessions
 displays of letters, words and pictures
 the use of daily activities such as water play and playing with dough to reinforce what had been taught earlier.

However, in other schools, adults missed opportunities to reinforce phonic skills and early literacy in the daily and weekly activities offered to children. In these schools, the teaching of phonics was too often an isolated activity.


Please note - and I think this is very important, where the commentary states 'the use of daily activities such as water play and playing with dough to reinforce what had been taught earlier'.

In his review, Sir Jim Rose points out the difference between multi-sensory teaching focused on the core phonics teaching and learning and 'extraneous' activities which are not focused and which can detract from core phonics teaching and learning.

In my training, I emphasise that there is a big difference between 'enrichment' activities which 'reinforce what has been taught earlier' and 'core activities' which should be extremely focused and fit-for-purpose without detraction or convoluted activities.

Also, there is a big difference between phonics provision in Nurseries for the three to four year olds and phonics provision in Reception for the four to five year olds.

I suggest that the 'systematic' phonics programme starts in Reception but 'incidental' phonics - mainly focused on the alphabet letters at first - can easily be provided in Nursery. Then it does not matter that the Reception teacher is revisiting letters and sounds that have already been introduced in Nursery - as, ideally, the Reception teacher has a full, core, structured, systematic synthetic phonics programme to support the teaching and the learning in a very focused way.

See this guidance booklet to explain the 'Teeny Reading Seeds' approach to phonics teaching for Nursery-aged children which is prior to a systematic programme:

http://www.blackberrycottageconsultancy.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/TRS-Info-Booklet.pdf
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Enunciation of sounds

Neither teachers nor teaching assistants always enunciated the sounds accurately and did not insist that the children enunciated them correctly. Where children were taught in large groups, the adult was not always able to check that all said the sounds accurately or that their recall of grapheme/phoneme correspondence was secure.

Some adults were incorrect in their use of technical vocabulary.

In addition, resources were not always selected with sufficient thought. For example, in more than one school, children were asked to choose objects and identify the phoneme that the object’s name began with. This was sometimes open to interpretation. For example, some children said ‘b for baby’ when the adult had expected ‘d for doll’.

Case study of less effective practice Nursery

Enunciation of sounds


The children were sitting on the carpet with their key workers. The two groups were separate but quite close together. HMI sat between the two groups, but the adults were so noisy that it was difficult for her to concentrate. This arrangement was not conducive to good listening.

The children were thinking about initial letter sounds and looking at the corresponding graphemes. The session was not well paced as there was too much waiting to have a turn. However, the adults had thought about resources and had chosen familiar items and presented them in ways that captured the children’s interest, for example in a box, hidden.

Adults did not enunciate the sounds correctly all of the time, nor insist that children did so. The teaching assistant confused ‘sound’ with ‘letter’ and asked the children which letter their names began with when she meant which sound. This confused the children. She did not help them to think about their responses and correct them if necessary. ‘What does “dog” start with?’ she asked. ‘Buh,’ said a child. ‘No it doesn’t. It starts with duh,’ she replied.


However, where schools had given careful thought to teaching correct enunciation of sounds, the benefits to pupils were clear. For example, in one school where the teaching of reading was good, the inspector observed a group of Reception children who were taken to ‘the language lab’ to practise enunciating sounds in a quiet environment where there were no distractions.

The ‘lab’ was a well-resourced room that the school had developed to support pupils with identified weaknesses in speech. School leaders had ensured that some of its staff had acquired City and Guilds qualifications in speech therapy to support pupils with speech and enunciation difficulties. One resource included a filming technique to capture pupils’ mouths shaping when forming sounds. In this room, the children could give their full attention to the teaching assistant and each other. They were able to hear sounds pronounced carefully and could then repeat them accurately.


I've noticed on visits to schools that many adults simply call everything 'the sounds' - that is, they'll point to a picture and ask, "What sound is this?", they'll point to a grapheme (a letter or letter group) and call it a 'sound' rather than saying, "This grapheme (or letter group) is code for the /ch/ sound".

I encourage adults to use the language 'of the code' as they are teaching the alphabetic CODE. Thus, the letters and letter groups are CODE FOR the various sounds.

This also means the whole staff can be consistent in what they say - and it is a great advantage for phonics beyond the early years and infants because staff are talking in terms of THE CODE and not using baby language such as 'the letters say this sound' or 'the letters make this sound'.

The letters make NO sounds, they are CODE FOR the sounds.

It is very important indeed that we change the perception of phonics from 'baby stuff' to 'adult stuff' because adults use phonics in one form or another (perhaps 'chunked' and not necessarily at the level of the phoneme - that is, the smallest unit of sound) - for both reading and spelling new, longer and more challenging words. Many adults, however, do this so subconsciously that they don't realise how much they rely on, and apply, phonics knowledge and skills.

That would explain all the national moaning about the Government's emphasis on phonics teaching and the introduction of the Year One phonics screening check!

I provide free posters to encourage the use of language around 'the code' and to encourage support with phonics for wider reading and spelling activities:

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

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

And of course I heavily promote the use of main visual aids, and visual aids for learners' phonics folders for all aspects of phonics and handwriting starting with the Alphabetic CODE chart available for free download here - see the 'giant' versions and the 'mini versions':

http://alphabeticcodecharts.com/free_charts.html

I made sure that we also had Alphabetic Code Charts and Friezes and an Alphabet Poster in the ORT Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters programme.

The Ofsted report refers to all display material being at 'eye height'. The Alphabetic Code Chart must be at eye height - that is, starting from floor level - but the Frieze material has very large font and can be displayed higher in a classroom - but the focus Frieze can be at eye height at first then moved over for the next 'focus' Frieze.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Linking phonemes with graphemes

Another common weakness in most of the schools visited was the lack of any link made between the sounds that children were taught to read and how to write them and begin to spell words. Most schools did not teach good handwriting and letter formation.

Examples of weaker practice included adults who missed opportunities to teach the correct formation of letters when teaching the grapheme.

Inspectors also saw too many examples of young children being expected to write on a small board while sitting on the floor. This resulted in them having to lean over onto the floor or balance the board on their knees, neither of which supported good letter formation and handwriting development.

This weak practice was frequently carried on into Years 1 and 2, although the new programme of study states that pupils should be taught to ‘sit correctly at a table, holding a pencil comfortably and correctly’.

Examples of lessons where inspectors observed good attention to letter formation were rare.

The following are two examples of good practice.

Case study of good practice Nursery

Teaching letter formation well


The pupils were split into three groups. The teacher emphasised being a good listener and reinforced listening skills. She pulled objects out of a bag: sock, spider, apple. The focus was on initial sounds: ‘s’ and ‘a’. Pupils selected an item and linked it to the corresponding letter/sound. The teacher introduced a new sound – ‘t’. Pupils practised writing letter ‘t’ in the air. They wrote ‘as’, ‘at’, ‘sat’.

Pupils were clear about the focus of learning. They used their current knowledge to support their new learning. Even though they were very young, they had grasped routines and enjoyed the activities set.


One school taught pupils cursive script from entry to the school and taught it systematically within phonics sessions.

Case study of good practice Nursery

Teaching letter formation well


Children were sitting in ability groups practising initial sounds. The children were following phase 2 of letters and sounds and also learning ‘tricky’ words: ‘no’, ‘I’, ‘the’.

The teacher introduced a new phoneme: ‘l’. Children practised writing ‘l’ in the air with their ‘magic finger’. The teacher demonstrated the cursive style for handwriting, which is used from Nursery onwards. The children practised writing ‘ l’, emphasising the link from reading to writing.

They then sounded out words with the ‘l’ sound: ‘lamp’, ‘lit’. All were given good opportunities to practise their skills. They then played a consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) game on the interactive white board. There were high levels of engagement, with the children being motivated and enthused by their learning.


If the description above about 'cursive handwriting' means starting the letter formation 'with leaders' I don't agree with this at Nursery age.

I know that some schools start teaching children the 'leaders' from the outset but my personal opinion is that this is not the best idea. Children need to be able to print - so when does 'print' get taught?

Also, little children see fonts which are not joined in their reading material and letters which do not have leaders. I suggest teaching print well at first and this goes well with phonics teaching.

It's about time there was more emphasis on teaching handwriting well - and my view of overuse and mis-use of mini whiteboards throughout our education system is something I express frequently. Handwriting should have been written into the Government's 'core criteria' for evaluating systematic phonics programmes but it is not mentioned. Thankfully, hand writing is mentioned in the 2014 National Curriculum with clear guidance to teach it with children sitting with good posture at desks. About time!

Nowhere is it mentioned about introducing children to different font styles and this is something that I think we tend to neglect as teachers. I did, at first, in my phonics programmes - so I then went on to produce a free resource which can be accessed on my Phonics International 'Free Resources' page. There are some suggestions for use at the end of the pdf:

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Alphabet_Font_Cards.pdf
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The importance of decodable books

Most schools used a reading scheme that comprised several different commercial schemes of mainly non-decodable texts: that is, a range of early reading books that are not closely matched to pupils’ developing phonics knowledge and knowledge of common exception words.

These books tended to be broadly banded together and colour coded according to difficulty of text. The range of difficulty of texts in the banding was often too wide. Some pupils who could not rely on help or support from home were doubly disadvantaged when they were given books that they could not read by themselves.

The following extracts illustrate the importance of children learning to read using decodable texts.

Case studies – less effective practice in Reception

John reading ‘Boy on the Sand’


John explained that he had only been given the book that day. He could not remember the book he had yesterday. He knew where the front cover was and the title of the book. He could point to the author when asked, ‘Where does it tell you who wrote the book?’ And he knew that if you don’t know a word, ‘you sound it out’. John could sound out ‘sand’ and was able to read the first sentence in the book. However, he could only read simple consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words such as ‘hat’ and was unable to read ‘made’ as he had no concept of split digraphs.

John said that he did not read to himself at home but his mum read stories to him. The book, although decodable, was not accurately matched to his current phonic level. After much discussion with him, he remembered his previous book was ‘Go Kart’ which was not a phonically regular text. When he read this book it was evident that he had memorised the sentences.



What might we learn from hearing John read?

We learn that he is not as far on in his acquisition of letter-sound knowledge as we would want him to be, nor is he on the way to becoming a happy, independent reader, despite having a supportive parent.

We know that the book he has been given to read does not allow him to practise the limited phonic knowledge he has and that he is already learning that reading is about memorising.

Of course, he will not be able to memorise all the words in the English language whereas he can, quite quickly, memorise the 44 or so letter sound combinations that he needs to know in order to unlock most of the words he will meet. The books given to John to read do not support good reading development and make learning to read harder than it needs to be.

Jane reading ‘Dick and his Hat’

The book was given to Jane on the day of the inspector’s visit. She could not read the title and had no strategy for decoding the word ‘Dick’. When asked what her teacher had told her to do if she could not read a word, she said ‘look at the picture’.

Unfortunately, there was nothing in the picture that would allow Jane to know that the word said ‘Dick’. When asked what book she was reading before, she said ‘Kipper’ (non-decodable). Eventually, the inspector and Jane found the Kipper book and she read it. Jane went through the book and read ‘Dad said, “Stop it’’, although the text actually read, ‘‘‘Stop it” said Dad’. She paraphrased or reversed every sentence or caption in the book.


What might we learn from hearing Jane read?

We learn that she, too, has very poor phonic knowledge and skills and is trying to learn to read from memory. The inspector noted that both children became frustrated when faced with books that they could not read and that it was very obvious that phonics and early reading were not taught systematically in the EYFS in this school. The school used a mix of early reading books, most of which did not allow pupils to practise their phonic skills. The school was not teaching phonics as the route to decode words.


Please note that this is not an accurate statement made in the Ofsted report:

Quote:
Of course, he will not be able to memorise all the words in the English language whereas he can, quite quickly, memorise the 44 or so letter sound combinations that he needs to know in order to unlock most of the words he will meet.


There are around 44 identifiable small sounds in English speech - but to teach the 'alphabetic code', we need some units of sound which are actually phonemes combined such as 'x' is code for /k+s/.

So, we need to teach children far more than around 44 letter sound combinations in reality.

We do the children a huge service to teach around 100 letter/s-sound correspondences by which time they will probably be able to deduce many further correspondences for themselves.

Here is the range of letter/s-sound correspondences introduced in the Phonics International programme, with a similar range being introduced in Oxford Reading Tree Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters:

http://alphabeticcodecharts.com/B1_DH%20Alph%20Code%20overview%20with%20teaching%20points%20colour.pdf

You can see that the figure of '44' is an understatement.

The Ofsted inspectors in this report have tried very hard to promote the type of early years, infant and primary practice that is ideal in primary for reading - but the bottom line is their specialism is not specifically phonics and reading/spelling/handwriting instruction.

I welcome the gist of this report, however, and am pleased to see the willingness to point out both good practice and poor practice in terms that are not hard to visualise.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Key Stage 1

Teaching phonics


The approaches adopted in the EYFS were typically continued into Key Stage 1 in the 11 primary schools. A similar picture of strengths and weaknesses as seen in the early years in the teaching of phonics was evident in Key Stage 1. Eight schools divided pupils into groups based on ability, with additional, separate provision for those who were falling behind.

Three schools taught phonics to the whole class at once. In one of these schools, the teaching of phonics was good because the system used by the school was followed faithfully across Key Stage 1 and adults’ subject knowledge was good. In the other two examples, the teaching of whole-class phonics was less effective. In all schools, pupils were taught phonics by teachers and teaching assistants.

Interventions to support those pupils who were struggling to learn to read typically began before Year 1. Usually, interventions consisted of phonics teaching in smaller groups, led by a teaching assistant. One school had reviewed its practice of teaching phonics and reading and decided to provide immediate support for struggling readers from the point of entry to Reception rather than putting all of its efforts into remedial support following checks and tests in Years 1 and 2. The school reported that this was proving to be effective. Two schools provided additional speech and language therapy to supplement the teaching of reading.

Becoming a reader and reading frequently

Even at such an early stage of learning to read, not every pupil was heard to read, either at home or school, every day.

All schools expected pupils to take home at least one book often, but not always decodable from the reading scheme to read with family members. Most allowed the pupil to choose another book to supplement the scheme book. Reading diaries were usually completed at home and checked in school. However, there was wide variability in the frequency of checking on pupils’ reading at home.

Four schools reported that pupils in Key Stage 1 did not read in school every day. One school relied on the weekly guided reading system alongside pupils taking home books to read with parents. In a second school, the policy was that pupils in the EYFS and Key Stage 1 would read with a member of staff once a week or, where a child was making insufficient progress, twice a week. However, the inspector noted that this school had to organise a large number of interventions to support children who were falling behind in Key Stage 1. The third school had no specific policy for hearing pupils read: it was left to individual teachers to decide whether pupils were heard or not. In the fourth school, leaders explained that only targeted children were heard to read every day. However, the reading records showed that some pupils in that sample had not been heard to read for two weeks.

In contrast, in addition to a weekly guided reading session, more effective schools used a range of strategies to ensure that younger pupils and those in danger of falling behind read to someone every day. Such strategies included:

 reading buddies where older pupils listened to younger ones
 reading with siblings
 reading to teaching assistants
 reading to parent/volunteer helpers.

Inspectors noted that less effective schools did not move pupils on quickly enough to more challenging books and there was evidence from pupils’ reading diaries that not all staff responded speedily to parents’ requests for a book to be changed. In several of the classes observed, pupils did not read enough books or have their books changed quickly enough.

Case study of less effective practice Key Stage 1

All pupils had a reading book that they took home in a bag provided by the school. Books were banded according to difficulty and colour coded. Reading diaries were completed by parents and included informative, articulate evaluations. These were not acted on by teachers and there was little communication in these diaries between home and school. Parents were not sufficiently guided by teachers in ensuring that appropriate skills were practised or extended.

Engaging parents

All schools provided some information to parents about their approach to teaching reading and phonics. Some of the strategies used by the more effective schools to engage parents included:

 ensuring that the pupils’ phonics targets were printed in, or pasted onto, their reading diaries

 providing information leaflets about phonics to parents

 delivering workshops to parents, starting in EYFS and continuing through all year groups where pupils still needed phonics teaching

 inviting parents into school for workshops so they could observe phonics being taught in Key Stage 1 and reading in Key Stage 2

 sending home resources to help parents play phonic games at home, such as a pack of high frequency words, phonic games, phonics spinners, white boards, pens, flypads

 asking parents to learn poems linked to the phonic scheme to support their child

 having parents volunteer in school; some went on to receive qualifications and become teaching assistants.

However, the dialogue between home and school was not always as positive as the examples above. Inspectors observed instances where school staff did not build on the enthusiasm shown by some parents.

Case study of less effective practice hearing Key Stage 1 readers

Year 1 books were banded and pupils could choose freely from within the band.

Susan read confidently, competently and expressively. She considered words she was less sure of and mentally applied decoding skills. She corrected her own errors when she quickly applied comprehension for meaning and realised the word had not made sense. She used intonation well. She said she knew most words but knew skills such as segmenting as taught in school.

Mary understood the context of the story she was reading. She broke down the words into their constituent parts when she was unsure. When asked, she explained that her mother had taught her the decoding skills. She had been taught to break up words into smaller words or sounds.


Both girls had access to a wide range of books at home and spoke knowledgably about a range of authors, including David Walliams and Roald Dahl. They explained that they do not often read to the teacher at school. A visitor to the school hears all pupils in two classes so they just have to wait their turn. They could not say how long it was between the one-to-one sessions. Their reading diaries showed that there were not a lot of books read in a monthly period but the content of these individual books was extensive. Both girls had targets in their diaries, but they did not know what they meant. Both were absolutely sure that their teacher did not know how much they read at home.

In contrast, the following is an example of productive engagement with parents.

Case study of good practice Key Stage 1

In this school, children were heard to read frequently and, where they were not heard regularly at home, additional reading time was given in school. Books were carefully selected to be decodable and were changed often. There was good dialogue between home and school via the reading diaries. Guided reading sessions were purposeful and well planned, with a major focus on reading for understanding. Children heard stories every day and this was supplemented with rhymes – also learned at home for homework.

A frequently overlooked element of teaching reading in the less effective schools visited was the importance of establishing good behaviours and routines. For example, inspectors observed pupils not have reading bags or, in one or two cases, reading diaries, in class with them. In others where they did, there was not a common approach across classrooms to where/how reading bags would be deposited by pupils, who would change the books, when and so on. In some classrooms, pupils could not remember when they were supposed to bring in reading books or when they last did.


Anyone who knows me or who knows of me will appreciate that I am passionate about the importance of informing parents very well about the English alphabetic code, about phonics for reading and spelling - and handwriting - and that schools should do everything in their power to work in partnership with parents when it comes to reading.

To this end, I provide all the main resources - such as the Alphabetic Code Charts and all the phonics routines, the Simple View of Reading - and so on - via my various websites.

I have based both Phonics International and the ORT Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters programmes are core paper-based, content appropriate and content-rich resources going home in the children's 'Phonics Folders' as part of the schools' 'bookbag routines'.

It is not unusual, however, to find some schools that do collate the children's paper-based core resources in phonics folders, but these do not get sent home to inform parents or to work in partnership with parents. I find this most dismaying.

I also provide PowerPoints for both programmes to support with parents information events. These include references to the Simple View of Reading to explain the role of phonics and language comprehension and to encourage parents re talking all the time with their children and in the value of lots of exposure to literature.

All of these central practices can be easily read and understood through this document provided in the big pink button on the homepage of www.phonicsinternational.com - and the information is relevant to both programmes:

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/how2.pdf

The links in the document above leads to some important information about phonics including emphasis on the role and importance of the 'Phonics Folder' and how to set it up:

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

You know the expression, however: "You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink".

In other words, no matter how well-thought through and designed the phonics programme, it is the strength and commitment to its delivery that will make the ultimate difference.

This is what the Ofsted report is showing us. All these schools provide some phonics, reading books, some reading opportunities, some liaison with parents - but it is clear that the results vary considerably for the children in the longer term.

And we simply MUST keep observing the details of what content and materials are used, and what teachers do with them, and what happens beyond them, to understand the true notion of 'best practice' to eradicate illiteracy and weak literacy.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Key Stage 2

Teaching reading


In seven of the schools visited, the teaching of reading was judged as requires improvement or inadequate. Inadequate teaching of reading was observed in all of these seven schools, especially in Key Stage 2. Consistently weak teaching of reading was observed in three of the seven schools.

Almost all schools described ongoing phonics intervention, sometimes led by teaching assistants from Year 3 onwards. None of the schools accounted for the impact of this type of intervention in the short or long term. Five of the schools did not check the phonic decoding skills of Key Stage 2 pupils.

Case study of weaker practice Support for struggling readers

Asif was a struggling Year 3 reader. He received additional teaching assistant support three times a week. He worked on three texts over the week and on this day was working on the most familiar of those texts.
The teaching assistant explored the title of the book, the contents page and whether the book was non-fiction or fiction. The book was about Formula One racing. It took Asif a while to work out that the book was non-fiction. The teaching assistant did not teach decoding correctly. For example, for the word ‘position’, she told Asif to look for a word in the middle of the word ‘position’, so he said p-o-sit-i-o-n. This was the wrong way to teach any child to decode. She then used a similar approach for the word ‘garage’: g-ar-a-g-e.


Asif was unable to apply previous phonic knowledge because he had not been taught to decode correctly. He read ‘gouge’ for garage and could not read ‘position’ or ‘pole’. He did not understand how to decode split digraphs. He tried very hard to decode but the book was above his current reading level and was not decodable: that is, it did not ‘closely match his developing phonics knowledge and knowledge of common exception words’.

This school operated a policy of using a ‘real book’ approach even for struggling, older readers. Asif, a child who needed expert help and guidance, was being taught by an unqualified teaching assistant whose subject knowledge was inadequate. Consequently, he was not gaining a sense of joy in, or mastery of, reading. Asif’s reading diary showed that he had read one book in a month. No one was monitoring the amount of reading that he was doing. He was making slow progress because he did not read often enough, was not being taught to decode correctly and the books he was exposed to, although interesting to boys, were not fully decodable and did not match his current reading ability. Leadership and management of reading in this school was judged inadequate.


This is so upsetting and so frustrating.

All I can say is that such schools could look into using Phonics International for their phonics provision for intervention and for spelling in Key Stage 2. There is no need for children such as Asif to be in these circumstances or for teaching assistants to be largely unsupported with cumulative materials and appropriate guidance.

It is very common for our slower-to-learn children to be left in the hands of teaching assistants who do their very best (and can be brilliant) but who are often not equipped with the right kind of material for teaching or learning purposes.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you are in a scenario such as this.

Not only can I provide oodles of the right kind of cumulative decodable material from code level to text level at the click of a button - I can also provide free online guidance (or email guidance), training, consultancy - and there is plenty of information via the message forum and free resources too.
Confused Confused Confused
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/ready-read-how-sample-of-primary-schools-stoke-trent-teach-pupils-read

Please click on the full Ofsted report to continue reading about 'Guided Reading', 'Assessment', 'Leadership and Management' and so on.

As I said, a 'must read'!
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 'Stoke-on-Trent' Ofsted report is gaining attention for its emphasis on phonics and here is another Ofsted report of a Junior School which focuses on the need for 'phonics' for those children who need it - flagged up via a blog 'Clerk to Governors':

Quote:
Coming to an Ofsted report near you very soon – ffonyx.

Posted on July 11, 2014 by admin

Have a look at some of the comments made by Ofsted about a recently-inspected junior school in the south of England (ie Y3 – 6), judged overall to be good.

Q. What do you think that Ofsted identified that the school needed to do in order to be outstanding …. ?


http://www.clerktogovernors.co.uk/coming-to-an-ofsted-report-near-you-very-soon-ffonyx/

Quote:
Why is this important to know about? If you are expecting Ofsted anytime soon, watch out for the new emphasis on phonics, and be ready to ask your school leaders some questions about how well reading is taught throughout the primary phase. An Ofsted report (June 2014) on the way that reading is taught in some schools in Stoke-on-Trent contains an indication of the latest hard-line expectations, both on the exclusive use of phonics for decoding text and on structured reading experiences for children right through primary school.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Abi Steel of 'Blackberry Cottage Consultancy' has flagged up via Facebook six important key points from the Stoke-on-Trent report for training events:


Quote:
Blackberry Cottage Consultancy

I've just been reading through Ofsted's 'Ready To Read?' Stoke-on-Trent report (June 2014) because I want to pull out some key points to discuss in my teacher training session this afternoon.

Here are 6 areas I will be highlighting that Ofsted recognised as good or bad practice in successful reading schools:

1) Environment - in successful schools the learning environment was clean, tidy, organised, quiet and contained suitable literacy displays

2) Adult subject knowledge - the investigation picked up on those adults that were confident in what they were teaching and contrasted them with adults who got muddled between the use of the words 'sounds' and 'letters', didn't think carefully about their resources and even pronounced sounds incorrectly

3) Handwriting - the importance of linking graphemes to correct letter formation was emphasised, and of sitting at a table comfortably, holding a pencil correctly

4) Too much mini-whiteboard-on-the-floor work was seen as not fit for purpose

5) The appropriateness of the reading book schemes used were analysed closely - strong reading schools had decodable books matched closely to each child's abilities and needs; weak schools gave children books that contained code far beyond the children's current level of reading

6) Methodology - successful reading schools gave the message that decoding is the correct strategy for reading new or unknown words; failing schools are still promoting 'guessing from pictures' and a mixed methods approach


http://blackberrycottageconsultancy.co.uk
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to know how schools can be held to account that persist with the multi-cueing reading strategies.

But when official bodies, even the government, have personnel who provide contradictory guidance to teachers through different channels, it is very hard to cut through the mess to achieve clarity and accountability. Confused
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