Updated ELS programme now available

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Susan Godsland
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Updated ELS programme now available

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Jan 11, 2008 4:07 pm

The updated ELS intervention programme is now available:

http://www.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/primar ... acy/63469/
Changes to the ELS programme
Rationale
● The ELS materials have been revised to bring them into line with the objectives in
the Primary Framework for Literacy, 2006 and with the recommendations of the
Independent Review into the teaching of Early Reading (Rose 2006). It is aligned with
the Primary National Strategy (PNS) publication Letters and Sounds: Principles and
Practice of High Quality Phonics (00282-2007BKT-EN) and it is compatible with other
approaches to, and programmes for, early reading and phonics, which follow similar
principles.
● More emphasis has been given to reinforcing the systematic teaching of phonics
and applying the ‘simple view of reading’.
Structure and scope of the programme
● The ELS programme has been extended from 12 to 16 weeks. There are two
additional weeks at the beginning for revision and consolidation of Letters and
Sounds: Phase 2 and two additional weeks at the end to introduce Letters and
Sounds: Phase 5. The programme is divided into modules to make the focus of each
section clear.
●● The structure of each week and the time allocated to different activities has changed
substantially to place more emphasis on phonic teaching and application
You might like to read Dr. Bonnie Macmillan's RRF newsletter 49. 2002 article, 'An evaluation of the government's Early Intervention Initiative: The Early Literacy Support programme', before you look at the revised version:
http://www.rrf.org.uk/newsletter.php?n_ID=93

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Maltesers
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Post by Maltesers » Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:45 pm

I would be interested to hear what people think of this.

I ran the old version for 2 years and thought it was dreadful.
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Post by g.carter » Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:03 am

Do you think that the DCSF folks are trying to repair some of the damage they have done by their faux-pas in allowing Whole Language through the back door in the guise of Reading Recovery and other Catch-Up programmes?

It's impossible to know from the outside - and also until someone trawls through yet another encyclopedic tome - what the DCSF is up to. It's awful, really, that there are so many bureacrats trying endlessly to square the circle.

Malteser - your website goes from strength to strength. Well done!

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:22 am

Maltesers - welcome back - long time no read!

I have just visited your websites.

I had to laugh - I'd made a past comment about your avatar - but I think you have changed it since then! lol

You might like to tell TAs about the free resources in unit 1 of www.phonicsinternational.com . Whatever the programme being used in their schools, or even if they do more incidental phonics with various pupils, they might find some of the resources and some versions of The Alphabetic Code overview chart helpful! There are about 50 significant resources including an Overview and Guidance booklet free to download.

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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:57 am

Re ELS - I, for one, really begrudge the money that must have been invested in reproducing ELS. Having said that, I don't really know in what way they have made the changes.

The original ELS was produced in very glossy purpose-designed folders for teaching assistants with a many-page teachers' manual as well.

Have new hard copy materials been produced to replace the original ELS - or is the new version only 'online'? It's a pity they just didn't withdraw the programme to be done with it- giving a clear sign that teaching methods for intervention have changed.

I was alerted 'big time' when I first attended ELS training back in 2001. I went thinking that the Year one intervention programme would be more phonics as Progression In Phonics + searchlights multi-cueing reading strategies wouldn't do the job of teaching all children to read well enough.

I was utterly amazed on receiving the teacher/teaching assistant training to watch the infamous ELS video which showed the teacher folding back (that is, hiding) the pages with writing on as part of his process of 'teaching' the children to read!!!!

What we then witnessed was a group of very young children being taught to read with every process (clutching at straws with a wish and a prayer :roll: ) except looking at the words!

It was a sign of how bad things were that not a person in the room passed a comment except me (of course). I was devestated and exchanged looks with the local authority adviser (one of incredulity and horror). I had never seen anything in my life which was so incredibly far removed from what we were supposed to be doing as teachers - that is, teaching children to actually read the words on a page!

At that time the 'Lighthouse' reading book scheme was rolled out and the local authority invited the sales rep to display this scheme at the training sessions (so much for the repeated comment to me that local authorities were not allowed to promote commercial programmes - boy local authorities don't half promote commercial programmes when it suits them!). Note the link with the lighthouse (lights) theme and the searchlights reading strategies!

I took along the Nelson Thornes 'Soundstart' books to show trainees. This was the only newish reading book scheme that had an element of phonics focus at that time. Since then our call for publishers to produce decodable cumulative phonics books has paid off and, thankfully, we now have several good sets of decodable books which we can use to support us in our teaching.

We really are in a state of flux. Whilst the government has gone so far to make the direct gesture to bring ELS in line with the Rose Report, meanwhile Gordon Brown (our Prime Minister) and Ed Balls (our Secretary of State for Education) continue to promote Reading Recovery - and RR is still very different from synthetic phonics teaching. In no way is it in line with the Rose Report - and political indications that it is a changing-with-the-times programme has not been evident to us at all.

The irony is that ELS was heavily linked with Reading Recovery. It was pretty much the 'State' version of Reading Recovery - and ELS contradicted the prevailing government phonics programme at that time, Progression In Phonics. Anyone interested can read reviews of both Progression In Phonics and the Early Literacy Support programme in previous RRF newsletters.

ELS directly promoted the Reading Recovery 'Bookbands' catalogue and I wouldn't be surprised if nearly every primary school in the country invested in the Bookbands catalogue on both government and local authority say-so. Schools are not trying to 'tie-in' their decodable books with the Bookbands cataloguing - but this is not possible because the early reading books are so very different.

You have to wonder just what 'links' there are between the various people in high places where we see all the anomolies in official advice right now. Clearly, some people in government have really seen the light and have done their utmost to change advice to the country (albeit with some diplomacy and linking to the past) whereas other people carry-on-regardless promoting programmes which in no way can be described as being in line with the Rose recommendations. But we are not being able to hold them to account for these contradictions - we are still swept aside by Ed Balls when we raise the questions.

The Rose Report is very long - but it is very clear that the approach for teaching reading and for remediation are the same synthetic phonics teaching principles.

More and more people are recognising the contradictions and I receive emails from various practitioners asking the RRF about this or describing their experiences - which are not at all acceptable although my impression is that no one is ever brave enough to take this further - that is, put in a formal complaint. What a pity!

Mind you, my experience is that when you do ask the questions over a number of years and in various specific circumstances - there is no process to hold the authorities to account for their contradictory guidance.

They should have nowhere left to hide following the government's protestation that it does uphold the Rose recommendations.

I know what I would say if it was Christmas.

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Maltesers
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Post by Maltesers » Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:34 pm

Thanks Debbie for that! I hated running the ELS scheme and I eventually plucked up the courage to speak to the HT and asked if I could run my own intervention based on what children needed. I ran my own phonics group for several years with brilliant results, based mainly on Jolly phonics.

I found the lessons too prescriptive and didn't take into account what to do when children couldn't keep up. I also found that choosing the right children was a nightmare. It was too fast for SEN children and it really targetted those children who were middling. I have the same concerns with this revised scheme. If it targets the same children I really don't see the point because they will get there anyway with the 'Letters and Sounds' lessons they are getting daily in many schools.

If anything a SEN scheme would have been better with clear instructions for TA's who perhaps don't have the knowledge and expertise as yet with phonics. Prescriptive lessons based on 'Letters and Sounds' with ideas for what to do if a child doesn't get it would be so useful for some TAs.

I will add your link to both sites Debbie. I already have the overview on the blog with a recommendation for everyone to print it out and give to everyone in school. It is so useful.

Yes I remember the comment about the avatar :lol: :lol: It was an angel blowing hearts! She only comes out at Christmas ;-)
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Post by Hammered » Sat Feb 09, 2008 10:32 pm

Interesting. Just had a flick through and does look like some improvements on the previous, definitely a decent integration of L and S in there altho' the running record creeps in too.

When we used to run ELS it was a nightmare finding the time of having a TA to do a daily session for 12 weeks and now it is 16! I agree it is very perscriptive tho' which doesn't allow for the children's progress unless the TA is skilled enough to adapt it.

We do have a need for this 'catch-up' with some of our kids purely for logistical reasons. We run Jolly Grammar across KS1 but don't have the staff to run the programme again mid-year for children who weren't ready in September (especially with our summer entrants). They work in reception for the autumn term but they are now doing daily phonic/grammar work to try and integrate them back into the programme before easter when we have a full reception class.

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