TES - again....

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TES - again....

Post by quipg. » Fri Mar 26, 2004 7:01 pm

This weeks TES Primary has its usual waffle-filled anti-phonics article, this time by a Whole Language proponent who, like the "Phonics Phundamentalist" creator gets a handy income from publishing her materials. The irony is that such materials would be redundant if phonics was correctly understood and adequately taught in reception and year l in the first place. Why on earth would one want a reading resource, edited by the author of the said article (wittily entitled : "Don't lead all readers up the same phonic path") for KS2 children reading at level 1B to 2A ? If children in her school were propely taught there would be no need for such materials.

Kate Ruttle's article contains no rigorous examination of phonics teaching, no dissection of the monumental failure of Whole Language strategies, no information on why her school eschewed the National Literacy Strategy which would have fulfilled her desire for a range of reading strategies and on what methodology they used in its place, what programme within this methodology etc. Just another shoddily written article.


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Susan Godsland
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Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Mar 26, 2004 7:30 pm

From the same article: '...for too many lower-attaining children, phonics can be a hurdle which prevents them reading.' :shock:

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Post by Lesley Drake » Sat Mar 27, 2004 8:34 pm

Oh Geraldine,

It's a beauty isn't it?

It's not everyday you come across something so delightfully DIM and unintentionally COMIC.

I've decided that we rrfers should invent a new verb: to Ruttle

Definition - to earnestly blather on about a subject one obviously knows nothing about, while unconsciously condemning oneself out of one's own mouth.

I mean, there are so many classic Ruttles, one is spoilt for choice.

Personally, I like this one about her low-attaining readers.
"They were treating each individual word as a separate puzzle. they either recognised a word on sight - or thought they did - or attempted to sound it out. The children's entire cognitive capacity was focused on puzzle solving, so there was none left to monitor meaning."


I could almost hug her for this one.

"Also, the children's reading was so inaccurate, due to a mixture of confidently misreading high-frequency words ( for instance, confusing can and come) and of failing to accurately decode PHONICALLY IRREGULAR words ( for instance he, then) that meaning was lost."

Any Reception child taught how to blend using synthetic phonics could read words like these without batting an eyelid Katie, and why is THEN phonically irregular, or HE for that matter? And why is CAN taught as a sight word?

On and on it goes, as she proudly Ruttles away.

I decided to look her school up on the Ofsted site - I'm so mean. It's like pulling the wings off a butterfly. By Y4 there are some boys who are DISAFFECTED, they have a gender gap, and their SATs scores at KS1 don't get anywhere near Kobi Nazrul's in Whitechapel, despite the fact that Kate only has ONE EAL child in her school.

Perhaps others would like to pick out their own favourite Ruttle, and point out to Kates everywhere how they are being lead up the whole language garden path by the TES, the progfessors, the Primary Strategy and DfES mandarins, the whole rotten bunch of them.


Debbie Hepplewhite

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sat Mar 27, 2004 10:22 pm

Oh Lesley,

How our minds think alike. My first reaction to the TES article was identical to yours. Poor Ms Ruttle has just announced to the readership of the TES that firstly, she herself is blissfully ignorant about the research on reading, the understanding of the processes of learning to read and the flaws in miscue analysis and current NLS training. I think the 'Stanoviches' of this world would choke on their cornflakes.

Secondly, she has also announced to the world, the flaws in her school approach to reading and how children are struggling along in that school, like so many others following the NLS reading instruction advice because of the misguided thinking.

Her well-meaning article is a classic in demonstrating how once teachers are mistrained because all training becomes plausible when delivered with claims of 'research shows...' that minds become totally confused regarding how children's weaknesses and literacy failings correspond exactly with the way that they are taught as opposed to revealing inborn weaknesses or weaknesses in teaching effectiveness or methods.

What is worrying, is that teachers are not thinking along the lines of "Is it my teaching or teaching methods which are causing these problems?"

Ms Ruttles solutions are the opposite to what is needed even though Ofsted itself is clearly indicating that weaknesses in phonics teaching are the cause of poor literacy skills (but of course, Ofsted is still less than transparent in its descriptions of what schools are doing as the RRF keeps pointing out and raising as an accountability issue). Clearly, Ms Ruttle is therefore questioning Ofsted's observations, whereas the RRF is questioning the 'transparency' of Ofsted's reporting - a very different matter.

Furthermore, is this article yet another sign of the bias of the TES editorship? Threads about early literacy are often uppermost on the TES staffroom 'early years' forum including questions about the TES failing to take an interest in the work of the Reading Reform Foundation such as the challenges to DfES and Ofsted regarding the gender gap in writing. (Their publications never mention the reading debate, that is, the effects on boys' reading and writing by the reading instruction methods of the schools. No mention of research such as Johnston and Watson's Clackmannanshire longitudinal study where the gender gap is reversed and Solity's Early Reading Research where the gender gap is reduced.)

You would have thought that the TES journalists would have picked up on this by now - or are they deliberately ignoring all this because of their own bias? Sometimes the articles in the TES are so mundane and personal (as opposed to representing a national interest) that I cannot imagine why the advent of a challenging group with a thriving newsletter and website would not cause at least SOME interest in an area so important as 'illiteracy' and 'dyslexia'. How many people would go so far as to accuse the DfES of promoting teaching methods which CAUSE dyslexia?

Does this issue have no national interest and no interest for the education profession itself?

Not only that, how can it be that whilst Ofsted IS calling for more and better phonics teaching, the TES keeps publishing anti-phonics articles in the Primary Forum section when one would have thought that the experts on phonics teaching and authors of phonics programmes and researchers would have had some topical relevance and appeal along with the work of the Reading Reform Foundation.

How can we have any kind of a debate and move forwards when there is such ignorance, prejudice and intransigence? How is this leading the way when we are the ones promoting the use of statistics and research - not idealogy as claimed by the Primary Strategy director, Kevan Collins.

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Post by maizie » Sun Mar 28, 2004 12:21 am

I sometimes wonder if primary teachers should spend some time in secondary schol to observe at first hand the problems caused by poor literacy skills and the strategies promoted by people such as Kate Ruggles.

I have rough and ready statistics, going back to 1996, of Y7 reading ages on entry at our school. (we test them all for reading & comprehension at the start of Y7.) Sept 2003 was our best year ever, with only 40% of children reading at below chronological age (big improvement on 1996 with 74% below CA).

I'm sure you can imagine the problems this causes both for the children and their teachers. You cannot 'guess the word from the first letter' when you are reading an exam question, nor can you put in one which might 'make sense'. If the promulgators of these daft strategies in KSs1&2 had to spend some time at KS3 re-teaching children to read and spell accurately they might lose some of their enthusiasm for wild guessing and 'whole word' strategies.

I bet that not a single one of them could 'sight read' this word; Butylmethoxibenzoylmethane', but without a phonic reading strategy what is an aspiring industrial chemist to do? (now spell it, using 'Look, Say, Cover and Write')

I think that you should publish this thread on the TES board. Articles such as Kate Ruttle's need to be rubbished in public, not just here, where everbody agrees with the criticism.

If individual approaches do not suceed in moving theTES to publish articles in support of SP would a collective approach work? I would happily join a mass mailing/emailing campaign, and there seem to be a number of SP fans posting on the TES forums (fora?) who might support you too.

Power to the People eh?

P.S. There is a tiny chance that I might be given reponsibility for cross-curricular literacy next year - what an opportunity!


Post by Guest » Sun Mar 28, 2004 8:46 am

lesley has prompted visit to Ofsted inspections site via Google.
The Ruttle school, Osted report 2003 :
"The number of pupils with special education needs has increased recently."

A NLS flagship school (Ringmer Primary) , last report 99 :
"40% of the cohort for pupils taking the tests for eleven-year olds were included on the register for pupils with special educational needs as having specific difficulties wih literacy skills."

I believe this NLS driven school has decreased no of children with special education needs slightly - many have fled to schools in neighbouring villages in despair, losing their contact with their neighbourhood school and involving round trips of 8-10 miles.

What is extraordinary about this report is the fact that the inspectors consider it to be quite acceptable for so many children to be failing - it's "average"....g.

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