persuade school to use S.P.

Moderators: Debbie Hepplewhite, maizie, Lesley Drake, Susan Godsland

Post Reply
Posts: 159
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 5:30 pm
Location: USA

Post by cartwheel » Fri Sep 26, 2008 3:15 pm

Hi Lisa,
I am in a similar situation as you in many ways. I am about to go to work now, so I can't respond at length until the weekend, but:
I happened upon this phonics issue last March and have been thrilled to be able to read through the newsletters and posts on the RRF website.
It is my sincere hope that the Internet will provide parents around the world with the information about this topic that has been hidden from them for so long behind wholesome -sounding terms like "whole language" and "balanced literacy." Without the Internet and Interlibrary Loan, I could never have learned so much in the past 6 months.

My youngest child managed just barely to miss being taken on by a Literacy Teacher at school last year, in kindergarten. I started teaching her myself in April. She made gains immediately, and luckily I then had the whole summer to work with her without a single reference to context clues. To tell you the truth, if she had been recommended for Reading Recovery this year, I would have refused it considering all I have learned about RR, not just from writings opposed to RR, but from Marie Clay's own writings, which I find very disturbing on a whole number of levels.
There are GREAT resources out there which guide parents through the process of teaching their own children to read. How old is your daughter?

How to "guess-proof" your child and how to deal with the sight-word focus of WL schools are among many related subjects on this forum.

Posts: 1184
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2005 9:57 pm

Post by Judy » Sat Sep 27, 2008 12:49 am

Hi Lisa+3

I think there is possibly a fourth alternative - find a private tutor who will use an SP programme with your daughter and help you to help her in between lessons. It's not the ideal solution but it may be the best available.

I teach struggling readers, privately, one-to-one and most of them begin their lessons with me at about 8 yrs old. It IS frustrating and potentially confusing when children are subjected to two different ways of learning to read and spell. But with sufficient, regular input - ie a lesson a week, plus about twenty minutes a day in between lessons, significant gains can be made. And once your daughter realises that the phonics route is bringing her success, any confusion should lessen as it all begins to make sense to her.



Posts: 1859
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2003 7:41 pm

Post by g.carter » Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:39 am

Thank you Cartwheel and Lisa+3. Sometimes it seems too unbalanced to go on campaigning so relentlessly - but then people like you come along and make one realise that it's all worth while and can make a difference.

Lisa+3 - can you say what part of the country you live in ? This would be helpful to give you names of tutors who use SP - Judy's suggestion is a good one - and also of course to know what areas are still so ignorant or so implacably opposed to Jim Rose's recommendations. And do you know what this 'intervention' is?

Posts: 4173
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Post by chew8 » Sat Sep 27, 2008 2:38 pm

Lisa+3 - why not just try teaching your child to read yourself? I don't mean full-blown home-schooling - just spend half-an-hour or so a day on teaching reading after school. You could use something like Mona McNee's 'Step by Step', which still costs only about £5, I think.

Jenny C.

Posts: 299
Joined: Sat Jul 22, 2006 9:50 pm
Location: New Zealand

Post by Kelly » Sat Sep 27, 2008 8:17 pm

Mona's programme is also free on line at:

Posts: 517
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:51 am

Post by JAC » Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:07 am

I frequently get students who are in classrooms where the teaching approach is counterproductive to SP, and what I as a tutor am teaching the child. If the child is in Y1 or Y2 and when the school is still sending readers home on a regular basis, it has been feasible to request the school to not send readers home, whilst assuring the school that an alternative is being used. Some schools have asked to see the 'alternative' readers, most are just relieved to know that the child is being helped.
It is a way to resolve some of the difficulties without being too confrontational, but quietly assertive at the same time. It can give an opening for further discussion if the class teacher is open-minded and has not come across decodable readers before.
Lisa, you might find the 'I See Sam' readers (now available from Geraldine on are very easy to substitute in this way for school readers, as there is a substantial number of them which will gently teach your child to read. The total cost is less than a regular tutor, and the time and effort is no more than is normally devoted to reading the school home readers.
I'm not sure how old your youngest is Lisa, but this is an immediate way you can engage the school in adapting to some change of approach that will help your child now. It's not something you can delay.

Posts: 1859
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2003 7:41 pm

Post by g.carter » Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:21 pm

I googled Tracks and a rather vacuous website appeared (with no indication of authors etc.). Tracks is :
Based on action research and the psychology of learning:Takes into account the needs of the pupil and the nature of the material to be taught
Effortless learning:Interactive teaching allows the teacher to find the next step for each pupil, who then ‘just does it’...
Transforms the learning environment:Based on theory and principles of teaching that can inform the delivery of other subjects
It would be interesting Lisa if you could ask who wrote the Tracks programme and whether its authors can be contacted...

Ofsted mentioned Tracks by name in a report:
'There is very good progress in reading and spelling because of the effective use of the Tracks Literacy programme' Hertfordshire Secondary
What is going on with Ofsted/DCSF? Has David Bell airbrushed synthetic phonics out of the equation? Why are none of the really leading programmes ever mentioned? If a school works its guts out to improve literacy standards - like the LAST CHANCE KIDS school - it doesn't even warrant a mention. Ofsted reports are as vacuous as the Tracks website.... Christine Gilbert comes across as being sensible and pragmatic - but why allow inspectors to get away with producing such shoddy and meaningless reports, entirely devoid of subject knowledge?

User avatar
Posts: 3121
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:38 pm
Location: N.E England

Post by maizie » Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:55 pm

Tracks Literacy has been promoted on the TES forums from time to time by someone who only ever posts to mention it!

A search on the forums came up with these results:

TES search results

They are not terribly informative, but may help.

Posts: 39
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 9:36 pm
Location: Berkshire

Post by Hammered » Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:56 pm

I am a Tracks trained teacher and if your child is receiving it properly then it is a very good programme - certainly favourable to RR or Catch-Up. I think unfortunately there is not always fidelity to the programme in all schools - your child should at least be bringing home spellings to practise. Perhaps you could speak to the school and ask if you can have some 'Read Words' to practise blending, or use the lists in the Jolly Phonics handbook.

There was a previous discussion here where the author Mary Charlton clarified a few points:

Posts: 4173
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Post by chew8 » Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:24 am

I've seen 'Tracks' in action a lot over the past few years at a Key Stage 2 school - see my messages in the thread flagged up by Hammered. It works extremely well there in the hands of the excellent special needs teacher with whom I work - as I wrote on 6 Oct. 2007, 'The way she does it is not identical with s.p. in all respects, but there's a lot of overlap'. I have a few reservations about it, but still feel that it's an effective intervention.

The children make good progress and enjoy it - last week, I overheard one Year 4 boy saying 'I love Tracks!'.

Jenny C.

Posts: 159
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 5:30 pm
Location: USA

Post by cartwheel » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:41 pm

Lisa, what has indicated to you that "Tracks," as it is being used with your daughter, is more of the same "mixed methods" approach? I see that several here have good things to say about it, but it is possible that in this case "Tracks" is being used as just one strategy among many.

I have been amazed to find in a number of schools in Massachusetts, where systematic phonics is supposed to take place, that SP programs are being taught alongside the 3-cueing system, where phonics takes a lowly third place (and then often just the first and last letter of the word). So, perhaps "Tracks," in this case, is not being used in a truly SP way?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 18 guests