Reading First

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:49 am

No-one - there are no mechanisms through which to hold anyone to account.

Our main hope is that the political parties actually promote the synthetic phonics teaching principles for all teaching of reading and spelling at basic levels.

These 'basic levels', as we know, may be needed at any stage of education and any age.

The Labour government was treated, it seems to me, very fairly indeed by those in the Tory party who wanted the move towards the synthetic phonics teaching principles to be a 'cross-party' issue - clearly TOO important to be the domain of petty party possessiveness.

The Labour government has, quite frankly, blown the wonderful chance to turn literacy levels around at a stroke.

The inadequacy of their moves has already allowed misunderstanding, confusion, contradictions, squabbling, subversion - and goodness only knows what else.

How can anyone be held to account in these circumstances?

For example, I have questioned my local authority for 'purporting' to be in line with the Rose recommendations whilst at the same time actively paying for and sending local school staff to 'Catch Up' training.

There is promotion for 'Catch Up' in the local authority newsletters.

I have asked who has evaluated the 'Catch Up' programme and offered to evaluate it for them when they got rid of me from a local struggling school and replaced my synthetic phonics teaching principles with the 'Catch Up' programme saying that the school needed 'something different' from what 'Debbie' promotes.

I did not receive a response regarding who had evaluated and compared the 'Catch Up' programme with the teaching I had put in place for the Learning Support Unit.

I thought this was sufficiently important for the RRF to evaluate - which we did.

But still I could not hold the Local Authority to account for its actions - in fact, I was written to and told by the top lady that her 'officers' had been instructed to have nothing more to do with me.

I have written to Ed Balls about Reading Recovery and he could not be held to account for the contradictions.

And how can we 'make' anyone accountable?

It just can't be done.

So - we just have to keep plugging away trying to educate people with good information and leading edge teaching.

The battle is far from over.

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Post by g.carter » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:06 pm

I am puzzled, Jenny. If the DCSF is impotent to do anything about the Reading Recovery 'remedial' programme, why should it be able to control the influence of RR in the latter's stated aim of influencing whole school policy? Or am I dreaming that this is the RR position?

How on earth would it be practical to stop the spread of influence? This seems an impossibly idealistic point of view. And are you saying that the 5%-10% who are still left as non-functional readers/ineffectual readers should be sacrificed because the DCSF is too weak to take appropriate root and branch action? Surely we haven't worked to accept this damaging smudge-and-fudge compromise?

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Post by Derrie Clark » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:49 pm

but my understanding is that LAs are free to decide whether or not to use it
This may be your understanding Jenny but I really don't get the impression that this is the general understanding.

Those working within some (many?) Local Authorities are actually only permitted to recommend L&S and RR. I am not aware of any mechanisms/processes that would enable the content, contradictions or efficacy of these programmes to be discussed. The general feeling seems to be is that the literacy issue has been dealt with.

There is also sensitivity about promoting Commercial Schemes - Catch Up has charitable status. I am not sure about Reading Recovery?
So do you think we are wasting our time and energy, Derrie, in opposing RR and RR clones?
I can think of two things that might happen Maizie. First, as happened 14/15 years ago - as soon as funding is withdrawn from Reading Recovery schools themselves will not continue/be able to fund it. Second, phonics will be brought into Reading Recovery and, as RR Trained teachers, see this working more effectively, RR will become a clone of synthetic phonics. What do you think?

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Post by chew8 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:39 pm

Derrie writes: 'This may be your understanding Jenny but I really don't get the impression that this is the general understanding.

Those working within some (many?) Local Authorities are actually only permitted to recommend L&S and RR.'

I don't see how we can debate this further without having more facts at our fingertips. I myself don't know whether the situation of people being 'only permitted to recommend L&S and RR' exists in 'some', 'many' or 'most' local authorities. If Debbie's LA is heavily promoting Catch-Up, it's clearly one which doesn't recommend only RR for remedial use - I'd still like to know whether or not it's also promoting RR.

I will try to find out more, but it may not be easy.

Jenny C.

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Post by maizie » Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:13 pm

Second, phonics will be brought into Reading Recovery and, as RR Trained teachers, see this working more effectively, RR will become a clone of synthetic phonics. What do you think?
I think I would be highly annoyed if that happened and they still persisted in their insistence that it needed 'highly trained teachers' to undertake remediation, so still swallowed up large chunks of public money on elaborate and unnecessary 'training', in a methodology that any intelligent person can use with a few days training in the principles of the alphabetic code and how to teach it!

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Post by chew8 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:12 pm

Geraldine - I don't really know how to answer all the questions you put to me a few messages back.

As far as I know, I haven't said anything implying that 'the DCSF is impotent to do anything about the Reading Recovery 'remedial' programme'. As far as I know the DCSF is not impotent, but I have no real inside information.

I think that RR has in the past stated its aim of influencing whole-school policy, but are there recent statements of this type? There have, however, been some statements about RR trying to bring itself into line with the Rose recommendations.

I'm certainly not saying that the 5-10% of children who have serious problems 'should be sacrificed because the DCSF is too weak to take appropriate root and branch action'. What I don't know is whether the DCSF could, it it saw fit, take such action without further ado or whether legislation (or some other time-consuming process) would be necessary. In the meantime, I am trying to do my bit wherever possible to get RR properly scrutinised. While doing this, however, I also feel that the best chance of saving the 5-10% from being 'sacrificed' is to do everything possible to get them really good first-time teaching.

I was told recently, on very good authority, that the RR people had noticed a significant improvement in children's letter knowledge after the introduction of the NLS. My hope is that they will notice further improvements, not only in letter (and grapheme-phoneme) knowledge but also in decoding etc., after one year of post-Rose teaching, and that this may make them realise that the best thing for RR to do is to reinforce the type of teaching which children have had in that first year.

Jenny C.

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maizie
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Post by maizie » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:24 pm

From the ECAR report 2006:
Innovative aspects of the scheme include:

....Improving value for money by developing a model of layered literacy interventions. All the local Authorities involved have been asked to implement such a model, supported and monitored by the Reading Recovery teacher...

Enabling RR teachers to take a wider role in developing literacy in their school
The following factors are key to effective management of ECAR in schools:

....(headteachers) make sure that the RR teacher and other staff are given time to work together, so as to improve both everyday class teaching and the quality of 'layered' interventions.

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Post by chew8 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:10 pm

Thanks Maizie. I wonder, though, whether 2006 is up-to-date enough - we need to know whether ECAR is still saying this sort of thing now that post-Rose teaching is supposed to be officially up and running.

Jenny C.

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Post by Susan Godsland » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:21 pm

Devon LEA July 12, 2007
The national director of Every Child A Reader, Jean Gross, said: "There are 27 local education authorities in this scheme and Devon is one of the best.

"Within these 20 schools in Devon there is a really strong cohort of experts and our next task is to spread that more widely."

She said Devon's 85 per cent of children moving from not being able to read at all to reading at the level expected for their age compared with a national figure of 77 per cent.

"That is a truly remarkable achievement," she said.

Devon County Council's Primary Strategy Consultant with responsibility for Reading Recovery, Janet Ferris, said: "The Every Child A Reader project has turned an aspiration into reality. Schools can now afford to intervene early in a child's development with specialist one-to-one teaching.

"I think what our teachers have achieved is phenomenal - they have literally changed the futures of so many of our most vulnerable children, and now with continued funding, they will continue to change many more futures."

Every Child A Reader has two sections. Firstly specialist literacy teachers trained in Reading Recovery are placed in schools to provide intensive one-to-one support to those children most in need.

The project also aims to explore the potential for those teachers to support tailored literacy teaching more broadly within a school, beyond those receiving intensive one-to-one support.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:43 pm

This seems a bit like 'chicken and egg' to me.

Which teaching approach is, in effect, influencing the other?

I would hate to think that RR is watering down the synthetic phonics teaching principles - in fact, the approach would no longer be synthetic phonics if it took on board RR influences.

But it would appear that RR teaches have noticed a rise in standards even since the advent of 'more phonics' with the NLS.

The irony is if RR can claim any rise of reading standards when any such rise looks like it may stem from more phonics NOT generated by the RR approach.

Whilst early years and key stage one increasingly take up synthetic phonics teaching principles through whichever synthetic phonics programme they choose, then surely RR has no right to keep claiming rises in standards from the RR intervention per se.
Last edited by Debbie Hepplewhite on Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by maizie » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:49 pm

Jenny,

Owing to the fact that ECAR recycled everything from the 2006 report in the 2007 report, you will find EXACTLY the same words in the second report. :smile:

Derrie Clark
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Post by Derrie Clark » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:52 pm

Innovative aspects of the scheme include:

....Improving value for money by developing a model of layered literacy interventions. All the local Authorities involved have been asked to implement such a model, supported and monitored by the Reading Recovery teacher...

Enabling RR teachers to take a wider role in developing literacy in their school
This is exactly the practice in schools in 2008. The Reading Recovery Teacher is taking responsibility for developing Reading in school and training teachers in the strategies to ensure 'consistency'. There are various generic terms being used for Reading Recovery such as Accelerated Reading (I can't call to mind the others) as schools attempt to use the approach as a Wave 3 intervention across KS2.

Schools are just following the advice of the people advising them and, of course, funding them.

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Post by elsy » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:54 pm

hfraser wrote:
My skill at comprehension told me you couldn't possibly be paying to learn a large fish.
I'm sure your comprehension skills are equal to the task of understanding what the fish really means. ;-)
None whatsoever!!!

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Post by chew8 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:46 pm

Maizie writes 'Owing to the fact that ECAR recycled everything from the 2006 report in the 2007 report, you will find EXACTLY the same words in the second report'.

OK - but that means that even the 2007 report reflects the 2006 picture. I think the 2008 report will be more of an acid test as it will be the first one to come out since post-Rose teaching is supposed to have been in force.

Jenny C.

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Post by maizie » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:45 pm

OK. From the 2007 report (P7)
In April, over 400 RR teachers....took part in a series of government funded conferences to update them on current national policy on the teaching of early reading-with a particular focus on the Rose Review and systematic phonics teaching.

This is very chilling.

P29
ECAR has also attracted interest in parliament, with a number of Parliamentary Questions asked etc... MPs in a number of constituencies have visited schools to see the programme. We are encouraging local authorities to suggest to lead schools involved in the initiative that they invite their local MP and councillor to visit-the aim being to secure well embedded local support for the programme that will withstand any turbulence in national policy.
They are so confident that they can even publish that in a public document :evil:

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