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Ethics Education Policy and Research: Sue Ellis Scotland
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debbie



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 12:18 pm    Post subject: Ethics Education Policy and Research: Sue Ellis Scotland Reply with quote

Links from the University of Strathclyde site:

http://strathprints.strath.ac.uk/20642/1/strathprints020642.pdf

Quote:
Policy and research: Lessons from the Clackmannanshire Synthetic Phonics Initiative

SUE ELLIS University of Strathclyde, Scotland

Abstract This article explores why policy makers in England and Scotland responded so differently to the Clackmannanshire study on synthetic phonics. It suggests that a deeper understanding of the national and local policy contexts can explain Scotland’s response. Analysis of the wider context of the Clackmannanshire initiative supports Moss and Huxford’s (2007) argument that literacy problems cannot be couched within a single paradigm’s field of reference, and that policy makers need to consider evidence from different paradigms if they are to make robust decisions.





Quote:
Ethics, education policy and research : the phonics question reconsidered

Susan Ellis
Gemma Moss


This paper argues that direct control of the early years literacy curriculum recently exercised by politicians in England has made the boundaries between research, policy and practice increasingly fragile. It describes how policy came to focus most effort on the use of synthetic phonics programmes in the early years. It examines why the Clackmannanshire phonics intervention became the study most frequently cited to justify government policy and suggests a phonics research agenda that could more usefully inform teaching. It argues that, whilst academics cannot control how their research is eventually used by policymakers, learned societies can strengthen their ethics policies to set out clearer ground-rules for academic researchers working across knowledge domains and with policymakers. A stronger framework to guide the ethical interpretation of research evidence in complex education investigations would allow more meaningful conversations to take place within and across research communities, and with research users. The paper suggests some features for such a framework.

https://pure.strath.ac.uk/portal/files/20369896/Ethics_Ed_policy_and_research_final.docx


Both these papers refer to the Clackmannanshire research and the differences in responses between the governmental education departments in Scotland and England.

Most interestingly, the first paper goes into considerable detail about the responses of teachers and headteachers to the various literacy and phonics initiatives funded in Scotland and, in contrast, there is a total lack of mentioning the role of teachers and headteachers in actually driving the phonics initiative forwards in England - leading to government policy.

Instead, the essence of the second paper is about Government policy implementation in England forced upon universities and schools and Nick Gibb's central role in promoting systematic synthetic phonics largely on the basis of the Clackmannanshire findings -and the dangers inherent in political point-scoring.

What the authors of the second paper fail to fully understand or acknowledge is that it was teachers and headteachers who, through their years of experience, pushed for the need for phonics teaching in schools, doing their utmost to provide their statistical findings, which led to the governmental inquiries in England followed by the independent Rose Review!

Also, that it was people working with actual phonics programmes and recommended practices (particularly Jolly Phonics and then Sound Discovery, Ruth Miskin's work and programmes, Sounds-Write and the work of Jonathan Solity using the ERR practices) who played a huge part in driving forwards the need for phonics teaching in contrast to the multi-cueing reading strategies which were then promoted via the National Literacy Strategy 'Searchlights' model. Thus - these were educationalists in the truest sense - practising in real classrooms with, of course, a wide variety of learners as there always are in every setting. These same people were also mindful of the wider body of research on reading instruction - and not just Clackmannanshire.

In other words, we have a very partial picture, or understanding, of the events and their contributory factors in England, provided via the second paper above.

The second paper is clearly presented as an 'academic' paper - and contrasts in style somewhat from the first paper which goes to some lengths to detail the role that teachers themselves played in collaborating about their work.

Further, there is inaccuracy and, I think, a considerable lack of understanding and a lack of the variety of issues which led to the formal promotion of systematic synthetic phonics in England as presented in these papers.

Nick Gibb who is mentioned a great deal particularly in the second paper, for example, was very clear that he wanted the phonics agenda to be a 'cross party' issue. My impression has always been, (and yes this is a personal view but gained with good justification) that Nick Gibb is not involved in the promotion of phonics as political point-scoring as seems to be implied when noting the dangers of politicians becoming involved with education policy. He actually cares that all children are taught well.

Prior to the formal promotion of phonics courses required for teacher-training, I would suggest that the context in England in the universities was generally remiss in that it was 'hit and miss' whether student-teachers received much training or any training at all in teaching the alphabetic code and phonics skills.

Urgent and strong action was required to ensure that student-teachers received the kind of knowledge and understanding to teach the English alphabetic code and phonics skills required for both reading and spelling that a body of research already highlighted as the most effective content and approach. Indeed, the Simple View of Reading given much emphasis in the Rose Report, and largely adopted since the Rose Report, was not a new concept - it was introduced around 1986 twenty years prior to the Rose Review!

At the heart of all this is the children themselves.

How can the promotion of something so fundamentally important as phonics teaching and yet which was so lacking, or minimal, in many of our early years and infant settings - and for older learners as required - cause so much adult protest?

Whereas much attention is placed on the Clackmannanshire research and its effect on governmental inquiries and subsequent policy, the reality is that in addition to this research there was already some outstanding classroom findings from systematic synthetic (or linguistic) phonics teaching, some more long-standing phonics programmes and some embryonic phonics programmes and practices - being drawn to the attention of politicians including Nick Gibb.

Not only that, attention needed to be drawn to the lack of evidence for the promotion of multi-cueing reading strategies as encapsulated in the then 'Searchlights' reading model of the National Literacy Strategy rolled out with considerable clout in 1998-9. Ironically, Dr Laura Huxford is cited repeatedly in the papers above and yet she was at the heart of the NLS and the subsequently discredited 'Searchlights' model - that is a model not based in research. To this day, a multi-cueing approach may well be so entrenched in the teaching profession that it may be impossible to ever achieve the kind of systematic synthetic phonics approach recommended officially.

In other words, it WAS teachers and headteachers 'at the chalkface' driving forwards the investigations and providing plenty of evidence of the need for quality phonics teaching - a state of affairs which is notably missing as a factor in the second paper. I should know because I was one of them!

When Sir Jim Rose and his team of inspectors went to visit various schools using different approaches to inform the Rose Review, Rose and his inspectors could not ignore what they could see first-hand in real schools, with real teachers and real children - the contrast between the SSP schools and the multi-cueing or mixed methods schools.

The subsequent promotion of phonics programmes and practices, and aspects such as the need for 'fidelity to programme' has come about not only because of a body of research, including Clackmannanshire, but also because of the reality of genuine 'best practice' as evidenced by its outcomes with real children in England itself.

This is such a serious issue, and the best phonics practice is so incredibly important and impressive, that all the detractors and protestors really do need to fully appreciate the bigger picture. Imagine how amazing it would be if the many indignant adults could somehow see things from a different perspective.

And does Sue Ellis not consider that teachers in schools post the SSP promotion in England also enjoy collaboration, continuing professional development, and call upon people such as Lesley Robertson for advice as described in the first paper above?

There is not a day goes by, for example, when someone (and frequently more than one person) contacts me for some discussion, guidance or support - teachers, parents, tutors, headteachers, researchers, even learners themselves. Scotland does not have a monopoly on collegial collaboration and support. I am sure this is the case for other people in the field.

Do people such as Sue Ellis value teachers' experiences confirmed by research findings - which includes teachers who have gone on to develop phonics programme such as myself - or not?

There is far more to this field than formal research alone.

You see, there was an imperative to get quality phonics teacher-training into the universities in England - because the student-teachers deserve no less.

And there was, and remains, an imperative to get quality phonics teaching into all schools - because the children deserve no less.

It is so important that we teach the alphabetic code of the English language well (because why wouldn't we - it is the code of the language's writing system and it is the most complex alphabetic code in the world) - and so important that we teach the phonics skills of decoding for reading and encoding for spelling well.

Phonics teaching cannot be left to any form of 'chance' - and if some politicians have helped to improve the teacher-training of student-teachers and CPD and brought about the widespread use of systematic phonics programmes and practices - well done to them. They have actually discharged their duty.

To me, it's that simple an issue. Confused
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The second paper above provides a reference to the Reading Reform Foundation newsletter no. 51, so here it is:

http://www.rrf.org.uk/archive.php?n_issueNumber=51

This provides some interesting background leading-up to the governmental inquiry instigated by Nick Gibb followed by Sir Jim Rose's independent review in England!

Please note in my article quotes from Linnea Ehri about the dangers of the multi-cueing reading strategies - strategies which may still dominate in our schools to this day.

And yet the Reading Recovery programme continued to be promoted and funded by Government till 2014 - despite its underpinning rationale of multi-cueing reading strategies.

So, you can see that teachers, in reality, have not had total clarity from those in authority to this day.

The May 2014 NFER review of teachers' views of the statutory Year One phonics screening check and their phonics provision described the continued confusion of teachers regarding the application of a range of reading strategies:

http://phonicsinternational.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=636

So, despite the Government's and Ofsted's promotion of systematic synthetic phonics teacher-training and teaching in England, it is clear to see that possible confusion of professional understanding and early literacy provision is still the general picture within the profession!
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snorkmaiden



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 6:20 pm    Post subject: Ethics Education Policy and Research: Sue Ellis Scotland Reply with quote

I am a primary teacher in Scotland, and have been doing some personal research into reading. I mainly teach middle to upper stages (P3/Y2 – P7/Y6) so wanted to improve my knowledge with regards to phonics etc. I discovered and read Diane McGuiness’s ‘Early Reading Instruction’… (I think one of the ‘coven’ mentioned her on Twitter – thank you!) and the scales began to fall from my eyes!! I have since been devouring the RRF forum, Susan Godsland’s wonderful Dyslexia site, and everything here on the fabulous Phonics International website!

I feel like someone who believed the world to be flat, only to discover it is round! The implications of my new-found knowledge are enormous, particularly as in Scotland we do not appear to have listened to our own ‘Clackmannanshire’ evidence. Indeed, only last Friday at a research conference, Tom Hamilton of the General Teaching Council for Scotland was heard to be emphasising to delegates that (from Twitter) ‘#Light14 there are many ways of teaching reading, cannot prescribe only one way @GTCS_Tom’ and ‘#Light14 Clackmannanshire's gift to the educational world: synthetic phonics - but what about using real books and other methods?’

Sue Ellis (articles above), Jim Conroy et al, also seem to be doing a good job of denying the impact of SSP in Scotland. There is no requirement to teach it – and I suspect many schools / teachers are using a mish mash of schemes / mixed methods with guessing strategies. Most are using common word lists such as Dolch and Fry’s. In my own, admittedly limited and anecdotal, ‘research’, it also seems to be the case that universities that do ITE here are not covering the nuts and bolts of ‘how to teach reading’ at all. I’ve asked for a show of hands at various training events I’ve attended this year, and no-one (that I’ve come across) – new teachers, old teachers, B.Ed.s or Post. Grads – has had any input on this. Teachers are simply cobbling it together from the resources they are given in school (mainly old Biff, Chip and Kipper / whole word) and the advice that well-meaning, but ill-informed, experienced teachers are giving.

Also, the biggest problem we have in Scottish education is the attainment gap between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ – I feel as if I have found the cure – I am certain that effective teaching of SSP could eradicate that gap – as it has done for certain schools in London that I’ve read about.

I am thrilled to have found this forum and the one on RRF – but am unsure where to start or how to begin the crusade that is clearly required here in Scotland.

Sorry for the rambling post.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's good to hear from you, snorkmaiden, thank you for contributing your observations and comments.

This Commons debate (link below) was flagged up on Twitter this morning - and it is yet another indication of how people very much 'begrudgingly' acknowledge 'phonics' whilst at the same time making every other suggestion which sidelines or undermines phonics:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140904/debtext/140904-0003.htm#14090414000002

Quote:
Annette Brooke (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (LD): I beg to move,

That this House has considered the achievement gap in reading between poorer children and their better-off peers.

I am grateful to the Backbench Business Committee for selecting this issue for debate today and I hope that we have the opportunity to explore the important issues of child poverty, inter-generational poverty and social mobility.

In January, I along with many other parliamentarians attended a reception hosted by Save the Children called “Change the Story”. We learnt about its partnership with a charity called Beanstalk to deliver the reading programme Born to Read. I am a parliamentary champion for Save the Children and I was fascinated to learn about its involvement in a major reading programme that aims to reach 23,000 children by the end of 2018.


Quote:
I strongly believe that early education has to be right for the individual child and based on a clear understanding of child development. Trying to “hothouse” young children can be counter-productive and put them off learning for life, especially if they see themselves as failing simply because they are not as mature as their peers. Personally, I see much to support in the Save Childhood Movement’s “too much, too soon” campaign, which believes that
4 Sep 2014 : Column 525

children in England are starting formal learning too early, that the value of their creative and expressive play is being undermined, and that learning dispositions and later academic achievement may be affected. I believe that such views should not be dismissed lightly and we should be making sure we have the right balance in our early years programmes to enhance long-term learning.


A little while ago, it was broadcast via Twitter that Annette Brookes MP (a lovely lady and heavily into issues to do with the early years) was against the Year One Phonics Screening Check, for example.

In this Commons debate, much is made of the need for quality early years childcare (no argument with that), working with parents and guardians (no problem with that - it's at the heart of all my resource design and guidance for example), and applauding various agencies and organisations for their work on emphasising the 'love of reading' - and the time and investment they are placing on this emphasis.

I don't have a problem with that.

But what I do note is that towards the end of the debate, Annette Brookes manages to make some comment about phonics - and this is followed by others standing up for the need for 'other methods' and headteachers being allowed to make professional choices about their choice of method of teaching reading.

No - I don't agree with that.

Quote:
Of course, some children will be developmentally ready to read at an earlier stage than others. I believe all children should be viewed as individuals whatever their backgrounds, and supported in their learning in an appropriate way to achieve their full potential. There is a positively reinforcing cycle between reading enjoyment and reading skill. We learn to read, then read to learn. The enjoyment of reading is associated not only with better reading skills but with better skills in other areas, such as maths. Research for the National Literacy Trust suggests a positive relationship between reading frequency, reading enjoyment and attainment.

I know that the Minister was keen to introduce phonics as the main reading scheme in schools, and there is widespread support for that as a technical approach. It is also important, however, that teachers should be able to use their professionalism to develop each child’s reading. Alongside phonics, we must have programmes to support reading for enjoyment. I asked an oral question on such programmes recently, and the summer reading challenge was given as the answer. It is a great scheme, and I am sure that this year’s Mythical Maze gave many children a great deal of pleasure, but we must ensure that we have schemes that reach all children. I wonder how many children have never, or only rarely, visited a public library.


Quote:
Mike Thornton (Eastleigh) (LD): There seems to have been an obsession lately with the belief that only one method of teaching reading is suitable for all children, in the form of phonics. Does my hon. Friend agree that in fact different children react differently—better and worse—to different forms of reading, and that we should leave it up to the head teacher and the teachers under his aegis to decide which is the best method rather than dictate it from Westminster?

Simon Wright: Phonics provides an important way in which teachers can go about teaching, but it is only one part of the strategy. Ultimately, it is developing and fostering a love of reading that will help children to continue to enjoy life as a reader.



Children will not 'love reading' if they are faced with their own inability to lift the words off the page!

In fact, I would like to know how we can hold headteachers to account in schools where they do not work in partnership with parents for teaching phonics and where they blatantly promote a range of reading strategies which amount to guessing the words on the page.

These are reading strategies which should be widely understood by now by the whole teaching profession as being seriously detrimental to at least some children - diluting and undermining phonics teaching and the blending skill, causing children to guess and rely on pics, context and language guesses - which is a very poor reading habit that will not suffice in the long-term for adult literacy.

Literature is packed full of words which are new to readers - beyond their spoken vocabularies - and it is essential that a 'reader' can lift any word off the page - not dependent on any form of guessing - and new words cannot be guessed if they are not in existing spoken language.

There is ONLY phonics which will lift new words accurately off the page - enabling them to then enter into oral vocabulary on deduction of their 'meaning' from the context.

I suggest, snorkmaiden, that you simply add your voice to people like myself and Susan Godsland - and other RRFers (Reading Reform Foundation www.rrf.org.uk ) as it is collectively that we have been able to draw attention to the need for phonics - and it is collectively that we need to draw attention to the persistence of people in positions of influence to remain ignorant about the research on reading.

How can it be acceptable that what reading instruction children receive in schools nowadays is based on the 'chance' of the level of understanding and beliefs of the headteacher rather than on the wealth of evidence which exists? There are currently calls for teaching to be an 'evidence-based profession' and this is precisely what Nick Gibb has being attempting to achieve with his persistent promotion of systematic synthetic phonics.

One thing is for sure, staying silent on the issue is not an option once a full understanding of the situation sets in as you have already discovered.

Professor Diane McGuinness's writing has made a difference to many of us - we have much to be thankful for regarding her ability to research the research and to make sense of it for the bigger picture.Very Happy

Welcome, then, to the reading debate! Wink
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Susan Godsland's excellent site - mentioned by snorkmaiden above:

www.dyslexics.org.uk

Susan's book references including Professor Diane McGuinness's excellent books:

http://www.dyslexics.org.uk/reference_books.htm
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Debbie. I will certainly pop over to the RRF forum! What I can't get away with is the sheer scale of the problem - and the fact that so many people have been (like me) and are, ignorant about something so fundamental... and the damage we are doing in classrooms every day, affecting the futures of our children. Confused
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Coincidentally, I heard from another Scottish teacher describing interest in synthetic phonics for struggling secondary-aged pupils:


Quote:
I am a part time secondary Geography teacher in Scotland but this year I find myself with about 6/28 S1 ( yr 7?) children who have managed to arrive at secondary school who cannot really read.
I was recommended Synthetic phonics by a retired primary Head teacher friend.

I have always had a few dyslexic (of varying abilities) pupils so this year I am trying Open Dyslexic font for all materials and presentations. However virtual non readers is more of a challenge than I had contemplated or experienced in previous years.
So I am looking at how even in my subject I can try to address/produce some realistic relevant activities for a small group of non readers.
For 6 weeks we will be looking at the weather.

I had thought to produce some physical letters of key words and work a basic weather vocabulary they can recognise via letters and visual clues and sounds.

Looking at your programme the simplicity, step by step progress is logical and focussed.

Unfortunately I am effectively fire fighting, but feel I should at least try, but am also wary that I do not want to make things worse.

I had spelling issues as a child so am acutely aware of the need for a positive attitude.

Do you have any suggestions/cautions you could make to me given this scenario?


Many thanks

DRUMLIN


In fact, I routinely hear from teachers in secondary asking what they can do to provide for struggling readers - and I despair because if we had high-quality systematic synthetic phonics instruction in all our primary schools, it would not be like this.

There may well continue to be an issue with the breadth of learners' spoken vocabulary, but at least they would be able to lift the words off the page better and this would enable or encourage wider reading - which would in turn enrich vocabulary.

Re open fonts recommended for 'dyslexics' - I personally don't advocate open fonts but if some people find them more effective, then who am I to say otherwise.

It sounds like yet another gimmick to me, however.

Learners need to be able to read in a wide range of fonts - as that is the way of the world - the need to be a flexible reader.

I have recommended the following to this teacher as a starting point:
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I am so pleased that you have written to me – and I can help you.

Over and again I am hearing about pupils in secondary school who are not able to access the level of texts because of poor reading ability.

In our recent two-day training event, there were two teachers actually from a sixth form college saying the same thing as you – it is really very shocking and upsetting because it does not need to be like this and I am going to raise this with Nick Gibb (the politician who has done much to promote the need for systematic synthetic phonics in our schools).

Here are some general things you can do if you think they are appropriate:

Talk to the pupils about the fact that phonics is often associated with infant teaching – but that actually it is about alphabetic code knowledge and phonics skills for reading (decoding) and spelling (encoding) which adults apply to reading and spelling new and challenging words even without realising it.

The adult process for spelling, for example, is a sound-to-print process of working out the words all-through-the-spoken-word and then allotting letters and letter groups as needed (which is 'the alphabetic code').

The role of 'letter names' is purely to relay a spelling from one person to the next, letter by letter, to achieve an accurate spelling – as when we relay a spelling by sounds, we wouldn't know 'which spelling alternative' to use for a sound. The sound /f/ for example, could be spelt by f, ff, ph or gh.

If adults come across a new word in literature (and there are many new words in literature which need decoding so that we can come up with a pronunciation for the word, and then use the context to ascertain the meaning (or look it up in a dictionary if necessary), the adult needs to study the word to see if he or she recognises any letter groups, and then give sounds to 'the code' from left to right through the word. Adults are able to do this as word chunks very often, whereas synthetic phonics is about teaching the alphabetic code in smaller units of sound at first – chunking comes with experience.

2. So, you need to establish that phonics is 'adult stuff' and not 'baby stuff' - but I recommend that you make it explicit that most of the teaching profession, and the adult population, don't realise this themselves. This means that the teaching profession is not necessarily trained in how to teach and support in phonics – and that is why there are young people who are not able to read and write well enough – they haven't been taught well enough.

3. Talk about the 'history' of the English language – Melvyn Bragg has written an excellent book 'The Adventure of English' and I recently discovered that there is an online documentary series based on this book. Basically, you are creating an interest in the development of the English language (spoken) because of the history of invaders and then for the written language with all its complicated spellings.

4. Tell them that the English 'alphabetic code' is consequently the most complex ALPHABETIC code in the whole world (in other words, it is not like Chinese symbols but based on the letters of the alphabet). To this day, the use of Alphabetic Code Charts is not standard use and yet they should be – just like we use alphabet posters, periodic tables and times tables.

I recommend that you go to my website www.alphabeticodecharts.com and select a 'giant' version to print out to use on your classroom walls for constant reference to the chart for spelling purposes – and to illustrate the rationale of the sounds of speech and their very large number of spelling alternatives (and there are more than are shown on the Alphabetic Code Charts which you or the kids may discover over time). You can also select a 'mini' version to print off for each pupil.

You might use something like these for example:

http://alphabeticcodecharts.com/Yes_2_DDD_giant_grey_ACC.pdf

http://alphabeticcodecharts.com/DDD_parents_PI_TableTop.pdf

There are many versions so please do visit the 'Free Charts' page at www.alphabeticcodecharts.com – and even ask the pupils themselves which they prefer.

You may need to adapt the chart for your Scottish accent – or at least explain that no chart can be entirely definitive and that accents must be taken into account.

When you have a tangible Alphabetic Code Chart to refer to, you can then support spelling very readily.

Explicitly model that when you write on the board, or type, you 'think the sounds all through the word' as you do the writing. Tell them that this is standard practice for adults – not just children. So, just increase your 'thinking aloud' process whenever you do any writing in front of the class.

Then, model how when anyone needs to write anything, they have to learn 'which spelling alternatives' they need for which words – and this is very challenging in the English language – so much so, that many adults in English-speaking countries have difficulty with spelling – not just younger people – and it is an issue for English-speaking countries where the incidence, for example, of 'dyslexia' is so much higher than in countries with a much simpler code such as Spanish.

I suggest that you also print off the Spanish Alphabetic Code Chart and get the pupils to count up how many sounds there are in the Spanish language compared to the English language – its nearly half as many. Compare how many vowel sounds there are in Spanish (shown in red font in the slash marks) compared to vowel sounds in English – it is a huge contrast:

http://alphabeticcodecharts.com/3_CaD_pics__Spanish_Alphabetic_Code_Chart.pdf

All of this information is excellent for you as a Geography teacher because we're now referring to different contexts around the world in different languages which is pertinent to your subject and also very interesting.

There is also a Danish chart on my site – and there is a comment on the bottom of it showing that in Denmark teachers are reluctant to teach their quite complex code through a phonics route. This is an ideal discussion point for you I hope!

http://alphabeticcodecharts.com/Alphabetic_Code_Chart_Denmark.pdf


In other words, if the pupils had received the kind of rigorous code-based teaching someone like me would provide, they would not be struggling to the same extent.

In my training, I work extraordinarily hard to promote the universal use of Alphabetic Code Charts as constant spelling reference charts – but teachers also need to appreciate that ALL teachers need to be teachers of spelling 'as a constant' because the spelling system is so challenging in English.

First of all there is the oral segmenting skill to be able to split up the spoken words.

Then there is knowing about the various 'spelling alternatives' which are shown on the Alphabetic Code Charts.

And then teachers may well need to tell the learners 'which' of those spelling alternatives to use for any particular word.

Further, we need to make it very explicit to learners that they need to recall how words are spelt – and thus associate them as much as possible as 'spelling word banks' - words which are spelt with the same letter/s-sound correspondences.

This is not necessarily made explicit enough to learners in primary - and it is not sufficient simply to send kids home with word lists to learn - they need activities to embed word banks in memory – and they need to know explicitly that this is a lifelong requirement to focus on the way words are spelt.

Thus, in Phonics International, as the programme progresses, cumulative texts are provided with many words in with the same letter/s-sound correspondences.

These texts, plus pulling out the word lists, plus answering questions, plus seeing colour pictures or drawing pictures, plus 'quantifying' how many words are in the specific word bank, all contribute to longer term memory.

In the classroom, you can use the following type of language with reference to the Alphabetic Code Chart to support all spelling activities as much as you can – and also share these tips with your colleagues if possible:

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

Anyone can also support with reading ANY word with the language based on 'the code' and not babyish language (such as, 'what sounds does that letter make' - letters do not make sounds – they are code for the sounds):

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

If you can do the above, you are on the road to teaching phonics and supporting for spelling as a constant and not in a babyish way which is not fit for purpose.

Try the above, and then perhaps there is some hope you can persuade the senior management to provide time for the pupils who need it to do Phonics International as a 'spelling programme'. If so, assess their code knowledge to get a feel for where to access the PI programme (which 'unit' or 'which spelling alternatives' as you can use the programme flexibly with older pupils as required) and then follow this guidance as closely as possible:

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


Good luck – and please keep in touch to let me know how you get on – and don't hesitate to ask me any questions as you go along.

If you do the above and feel so moved, I would welcome you keeping a simple diary of developments which I can put online to share with others.

You see, your problem and their problem is everywhere – and if people like you can share your findings, you may be able to help other teachers and pupils in a similar context.

Warmest regards,

Debbie

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With the Scottish context very much in mind - and the irony that the country of the Clackmannanshire research (which now has international acclaim) seems not to have embraced the Systematic Synthetic Phonics teaching principles nationally. Indeed, the question arises as to just 'how much' Scotland has paid heed to the Clackmannanshire findings - and just 'how many' people from the academic community have gone out of their way to discredit or undermine the Clackmannanshire findings?

This focus on Scotland has brought to mind that I wrote submissions for the Scottish Learning Festival in 2011 and 2013 for the opportunity to speak at these events.

I remember being somewhat challenging (as is my tendency of course) of the Scottish 'Curriculum for Excellence' which is a huge document (as in 'many pages') so not at all readily-digestible for busy teachers. So just how fit-for-purpose is it in reality?

Anyway, for interest, here are my submissions which did not get accepted - no surprises all things considered - but it seems a pity since Scotland seems to have slipped back regarding its basic literacy skills provision in at least some districts according to what I am currently hearing:

Quote:
Scottish Learning Festival 2011

submission by Debbie Hepplewhite

Criteria for the submission:

*Curriculum for Excellence – Learning, Teaching and Assessment, Making the connections
*Alignment with a key priority in Scottish Education
*Demonstrations of innovative practice
*Clear demonstration of the impact on learners’ outcomes
*Links to practitioners’ practice and/or involvement of practitioners in presentation
*Intention to engage the audience in professional dialogue

[So this is what I wrote...]

The Curriculum for Excellence guidance for Literacy – does it make the connections?

“...Literacy is fundamental to all areas of learning, as it unlocks access to the wider curriculum. Being literate increases opportunities for the individual in all aspects of life, lays the foundations for lifelong learning and work, and contributes strongly to the development of all four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence.” (Learning and Teaching Scotland)

“The framework is less detailed and prescriptive than previous curriculum advice. It provides professional space for teachers and other staff to use in order to meet the varied needs of all children and young people”. (Learning and Teaching Scotland)

Food for thought:

With regard to Literacy, does the Curriculum for Excellence succeed in providing ‘professional space’ for teachers and other staff to use in order ‘to meet the varied needs of all children and young people’ or is some fundamental advice regarding the teaching, learning and assessment of basic alphabetic code knowledge and decoding and encoding core skills worryingly absent?

Many people have been very grateful to be able to call upon the findings in Scottish schools of the effectiveness of the synthetic phonics teaching principles for both reading and spelling. This has supported their efforts to lobby the UK government to change its official guidance for reading instruction. South of the border, there has been a move away from learning initial sight vocabularies and multi-cueing guessing strategies towards systematic, synthetic phonics teaching. This has firmly embedded the need to teach the alphabetic code and blending (synthesising) for reading and segmenting for spelling.

Indeed, HMIE noted in the Clackmannanshire schools “that the synthetic phonics ...programmes
” had “received international recognition”.

http://www.clacksweb.org.uk/council/press/?release=834

Do the learning descriptors of technical knowledge and skills for literacy in the Curriculum for Excellence reflect the expertise of many Scottish teachers and the contribution made by Clackmannanshire and Dunbartonshire schools to the international reading debate?

Let us examine the wording in the Curriculum for Excellence. Do we find any of the vocabulary that we might expect to see regarding advances in how to teach beginning readers and writers, and how learners should approach the reading and writing of new words (including young learners and more mature students)? For example, should we expect to see references to the alphabetic code (the very basis of our reading and writing system), the alphabet, all through the word sounding out and blending, oral segmenting (or identifying the sounds in words) for all through the word spelling, systematic synthetic phonics?

What we do note is a somewhat discovery learning and exploring ethos and reference to the selection of ‘strategies’ and ‘resources’ (what/which?) underpinning the beginnings of reading, spelling and writing instruction. International research, however, indicates that the very best results to meet the needs of all children and young people is through explicit and direct teaching. (See the UK Reading Reform Foundation www.rrf.org.uk for links to research)

In Literacy: experiences and outcomes (CfE), we read:

Reading - Early:I explore sounds, letters and words, discovering how they work together, and I can use what I learn to help me as I read and write.”

Reading - First: “I can use my knowledge of sight vocabulary, phonics, context clues, punctuation and grammar to read with understanding and expression.”

Reading - First: “I am learning to select and use strategies and resources before I read, and as I read, to help make the meaning of texts clear.”

Reading - Second: “Through developing my knowledge of context clues, punctuation, grammar and layout, I can read unfamiliar texts with increasing fluency, understanding and expression.”

Writing – Early: I enjoy exploring and playing with the patterns and sounds of language and can use what I learn.”

Writing (Tools for writing) – Early: “I explore sounds, letters and words, discovering how they work together; and I can use what I learn to help me as I read or write.”

Writing - First: “I can spell the most commonly-used words, using my knowledge of letter patterns and spelling rules and use resources to help me spell tricky words or unfamiliar words.”

Writing - Second: “I can spell most of the words I need to communicate, using spelling rules, specialist vocabulary, self-correction techniques and a range of resources.”

In contrast, the Curriculum for Excellence does great justice to the higher-order experiences and outcomes for developing language and literacy skills. Many statements on many pages provide aspirational learning descriptors – but are these poised precariously on the weakest and most minimal of descriptions for the technical foundations of learning to read and write?

How best can support be provided to link the highest quality phonics instruction with the higher-order requirements of the wider curriculum for busy teaching professionals working in partnership with learners and their parents?

Debbie will make suggestions and provide information and resources to ‘fill the space’ - for marrying the basic knowledge and skills required for teaching reading and spelling with the wider language and literacy curriculum.


Debbie Hepplewhite

Author of the online synthetic phonics programme, Phonics International, for all ages, mainstream and intervention at www.phonicsinternational.com

Phonics Consultant for ORT Floppy’s Phonics Sounds and Letters programme (Oxford University Press)

http://www.oup.com/oxed/primary/oxfordreadingtree/authors/debbie/
Synthetic Phonics Training Provider

http://www.syntheticphonicstraining.com/about.html


According to what I am hearing now from some people in Scotland, what a pity that the organisers of the Scottish Learning Festival did not think this topic, or my views on it, were sufficiently relevant or interesting! Confused
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And here is my 2013 submission:

Quote:
Proposal for Scottish Learning Festival 2013 � submitted 5th February
The event is for Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th September.

Transforming learning and well-being starts and ends with language and basic literacy skills taught well!

It's as simple as this � all teachers need to be experts at teaching the alphabetic code and the associated core skills of decoding, encoding and handwriting - or we�ll always fail some of our learners � often the least privileged.

Scrutiny of the national curriculum drawn up in various countries usually reveals pages of emphasis on sophisticated higher-order skills with a cursory nod, at best, to teaching the alphabetic code and the core phonics skills of decoding, encoding and the dying art of handwriting.

Even in Scotland - famous for pioneering work in Clackmannanshire and Dunbartonshire - the Curriculum for Excellence pays lip-service to the need for basic skills teaching.

The teaching profession waxes lyrical about creative and deep-thinking aspirations for our pupils. We embrace technology and fear to turn young learners off if we fail to provide an all-singing, all-dancing multi-media experience for our teenies to our teens.

Has our profession lost sight, however, of the intrinsic satisfaction and fascination that even our youngest learners experience when they find themselves simply able to decode the symbols of print on a page and encode their thoughts independently?

We need an Alphabetic Code Chart in every classroom for a start � where�s yours?


To no avail of course... Confused

What a pity.

Scotland and England might not have teachers of sixth formers approaching people like me because they have so many pupils who cannot access the texts in secondary school often because of lack of alphabetic code knowledge and basic skills.

Time to listen up?
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The theme for the 2014 Scottish Learning Festival is:


http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/slf/slf2014/themes.asp


Quote:
The Scottish Learning Festival 2014: raising achievement and attainment for all will focus on maximising educational outcomes through:

*early intervention and prevention - for children, young people and adult learners in order to maximise educational outcomes;

*health and wellbeing - ranging from physical education and sport to the full range of health and wellbeing subjects which are the responsibility of all practitioners;

*employability skills - to secure a highly educated, well prepared and well-motivated young workforce able to compete in a global market.

In addition to providing high quality continuing professional learning, one of the most valued assets of SLF is the abundant opportunity to network with others. SLF is a rendezvous for educational professionals both nationally and internationally, providing a unique platform to engage with a diverse range of experts, colleagues and suppliers.


I can state categorically that the field of phonics and literacy basic skills is entirely relevant to the theme of the Scottish Learning Festival yet again.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It will be an interesting exercise to ask some of our Scottish teachers to scrutinise the literacy plan for Scotland to see if these things are happening.

There is much reference in here to the 'Curriculum for Excellence' but that is to assume that the curriculum descriptors are what they need to be to be most helpful for teachers within that document.

Lots of promises about liaison and collaborative relationships and training - has it happened, is it happening - for whom?

What are the benefits for the children/adults/prisoners themselves?

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/328493/0106197.pdf

What role does 'phonics' play in the Literacy Plan for Scotland - in reality?
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is an interesting article in the Telegraph regarding Scotland's lack of national testing:

Nicola Sturgeon to consider tests to improve poor schools


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/SNP/11370725/Nicola-Sturgeon-to-consider-tests-to-improve-poor-schools.html

Quote:
Nicola Sturgeon to consider tests to improve poor schools

The First Minister admits a way of testing pupils' progress must be introduced in Scotland if the gulf between state schools in poor and wealthy areas is to be closed.


Nicola Sturgeon needs to be aware that the teachers in Scotland are not necessarily trained in the teaching of reading based on the long-standing international research, the famous Clackmannanshire research and leading-edge classroom findings.

Whereas some education authorities in Scotland have taken on a phonics programme en masse, other schools carry on with whole language regardless of the great work achieved in the Scottish Clackmannanshire studies and in Dunbartonshire.

Nicola Sturgeon could do a lot worse than simply adopting England's Year One Phonics Screening Check for which all the work has been done to compile the words and design the resources.

Then we would have some idea about the effectiveness of early years reading instruction in Scotland.

Sad
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Debbie,

Thank you for flagging this up - I had managed to miss it! It is a small comment that will have huge implications. When Curriculum for Excellence was introduced we did away with all of our standardised testing... I would definitely be in favour of introducing the phonics check up here - to provide us with much needed information about how well are children are doing - but also to put reading 'back on the map', meaning we would all have to re-evaluate our practice with regards to the teaching of reading. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thought I'd add this to the Scotland thread - which seems to be mainly the Sue Ellis thread... It's from Closing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Education by Edward Sosu and Sue Ellis.

Quote:
Decoding and fluency

There are strong correlations between low socioeconomic status and low letter and vocabulary knowledge on starting school, and also between letter
knowledge at the start of school and later reading attainment (Denton and
West, 2002). The arguments around phonics and teaching pupils to decode
print have been fierce and often unhelpfully reductionist. Obviously, teaching alphabetic knowledge, and how to hear, to sequence, to isolate, blend and segment the sounds in words is important. However, large-scale longitudinal studies in the US show that mastering phonics alone does not improve the reading attainment of those children from low socioeconomic groups and that fluency is equally important (Denton and West, 2002).

In a cross-national study that included Scotland, Thompson and
colleagues (2008) found that classes that focused heavily on phonics had
less instructional time available to practice reading continuous text and
that over-prioritising phonics, or atomistic elements of reading, may not
be the best way to promote literacy in disadvantaged groups. Nonetheless,
the Clackmannanshire phonics study (Johnston and Watson, 2005) made
headline-grabbing claims for phonics and has had a significant impact on
Scottish practice through media publicity, local authority networks and
commercial teaching materials, despite obvious evidence that the claims do
not match reality (Ellis and Moss, 2013). Research does indicate that children starting school with low letter and vocabulary knowledge (associated with socioeconomically disadvantaged groups) benefit from small-group, teacher-led, explicit literacy teaching at the start of their school career, with more open-ended literacy activities as the year progresses (Connor et al., 2004, 2007).


*sighs*

Here is the link to the full document: http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/education-attainment-scotland-full.pdf

Snorkmaiden
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