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Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 2:13 am
by Debbie Hepplewhite ... .php?t=581

I've just written here a bit of history about the NLS as I see it misguidedly defended in a number of documents as 'evidence-based'.

I was shocked to see Kerry Hempenstall describing the NLS as evidence-based but then he would not have scrutinised the detail like we did - nor would he have been subjected to the NLS training to fully understand exactly 'what' was being promoted by way of guidance for teachers teaching reading.

See the development of my information where I refer to the contradictions of government promoting both the systematic synthetic phonics teaching principles for which the core criteria specifically mentions no 'multi-cueing' and yet the government's continued promotion - indeed funding until 2014 (and perhaps far beyond when RR is part of the EEF trials) of Reading Recovery which does promote 'multi-cueing'.

Is anyone aware of Reading Recovery changing its overarching guidance?

Recently I found some old letters that I'd written to various people in authority, one being to the Ofsted inspector who was Head of Primary inspection at that time.

He said that Ofsted inspectors would not condone teachers telling their children to guess the words.

I replied with the specific wording in the Early Literacy Support programme which was totally about telling teachers to teach children to guess the words from various cues.

This is what we had to do at that time - over and over again.

But what is really frustrating is that we reached the point where the Science and Technology select committee challenged the government about its choice of Reading Recovery, noting that the methodology was not in line with the Rose recommendations - and noting that the government had ACCEPTED the Rose recommendations.

The question was also raised as to what other intervention programmes had been considered in addition to, or in place of RR, seeing as RR was so very expensive and not in line with Rose.

So, the committee could see the contradictions, and exposed the lack of sense and accountability of the government's decisions to back RR for its Every Child a Reader initiative and so on - but then nothing happened.

No true accountability.

What are teachers to 'understand' then - particularly for their weakest and slowest-to-learn readers?

It doesn't seem to matter how many papers we refer to of serious researchers who describe in great detail the poor and damaging practice of multi-cueing reading strategies (for example, outlined specifically in Hempenstall's award speech via link above), still RR persists - and other similar programmes.

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 2:17 am
by Debbie Hepplewhite
I'm contemplating putting some of my letters in the public domain - they're very revealing - and we do seem to go round and round in circles.

As late as 2011, remember the Sheffield Hallam University review of teachers taking part in the Year One Phonics Screening Check pilot - nearly three-quarters describing that they used the multi-cueing reading strategies.

No wonder their phonics screening check results were not that great!

Poor kids.

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:51 pm
by Derrie Clark
Just a couple of reflections on CEM Conference that Maggie and I attended.

A fundamental flaw in the CEM is that they cannot consider research using commercial phonic programmes, yet they can continue to consider 'research' implementing Reading Recovery. At the recent conference a speaker assured us of the evidence base for Reading Recovery?

Another issue is the simple 'headlining' of findings, for example, class size and number of TAs have little evidence base while peer tuition and feedback do. While there may be some evidence for or against these 'interventions to improve learning' per se, it is not easily possible to access the studies that inform these conclusions to check on the contextual or content element of them.

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:52 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
I find it ridiculous that such a huge, international organisation as Reading Recovery, which is very expensive for schools and involves an extensive, expensive training period is not considered 'commercial'.

People make money from it don't they?

In any event, 'education' is so very important, that arguably it should not be the concern of researchers whether specific programmes/resources are commercial or not.

It suggests that everyone in education who is committed to designing supportive resources/programmes should simply give everything away 'for free' in order for other people to find out how effective it is or not.

There is no logic here.

When I was writing my many letters to the government and local authority managers, I was told by government that local authorities were allowed to recommend commercial material if those chose to do so.

I was told by the local authority managers that they were not allowed to.

But they did when it suited them - so, very example, there was a huge plug of 'First Steps' in my local authority around the time of the National Literacy Strategy.

And also, when I wanted to review the Catch-Up programme and my local authority went to extraordinary lengths to prevent me from getting hold of the material, it transpired that there was some kind of licence arrangement with the local authority and the Catch-Up people.

Local Authority managers were sending teachers and teaching assistants on the Catch-Up courses for example and Catch-Up was heavily promoted by the LA - probably still is.

What I am endeavouring to point out is hypocrisy, inconsistency and irrationality all over the place.

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:18 pm
by Derrie Clark
The education blob.

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:37 pm
by yvonne meyer
I was shocked to see Kerry Hempenstall describing the NLS as evidence-based
Debbie, I think there's been a misunderstanding. I was at the Mona Tobias Awards and heard Kerry deliver the speech that you've linked in your post above. I re-read the speech and I don't see where Kerry described the NSL as evidence-based.

Kerry gave the speech at the time when the Rose Report had been just accepted and the UK Department of Education had just mandated the teaching of synthetic phonics.

My understanding of Kerry's speech was that prior to the Rose Report and Clacks, decision makers like the UK DoE was 'impervious' to evidence-based research. Therefore, the NSL was not based on evidence. While Kerry did not state this in his speech, this conclusion was obvious from the overall context of what he was saying.

Kerry then went on to say that due to concerns about poor progress in literacy by large numbers of students, the UK DoE was now (2006) mandating an evidence-based approach to beginning reading.

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:22 am
by Debbie Hepplewhite
Thanks for that information, Yvonne.

I was surprised too but I may have misread something. :sad:

I'll go back to the speech as it was printed and re-read - and re-read more carefully!

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:33 am
by Debbie Hepplewhite
I've only looked at Kerry's speech quickly at the moment as I'm in the middle of doing something else, but I found these two sections where it reads as if Kerry is saying that the NLS introduced in 1998 was 'evidence-based' which I am suggesting it wasn't as it the NLS promoted the multi-cueing 'Searchlights' model. It was only in 2006 with the independent Rose Report that the government accepted Rose's recommendations to drop the 'Searchlights' model and to adopt the 'Simple View of Reading' model as a 'useful conceptual framework. Thus, the key date for 'evidence-based' in England is 2006 following the Rose inquiry - not the 1998 National Literacy Strategy.
In Great Britain, similar concerns have produced a National Literacy Strategy (Department for Education and Employment, 1998) that mandates practice based upon research findings. In Australia, The National Enquiry into the Teaching of Literacy (2005) also reached similar conclusions about the proper role of educational research. Slavin (2002) considers that such initiatives will reduce the pendulum swings that have characterized education thus far, and could produce revolutionary consequences in redressing educational achievement differences within our community.
There are three groups with whom researchers need to be able to communicate if their innovations are to be adopted. At the classroom level, teachers are the focal point of such innovations and their competent and enthusiastic participation is required if success is to be achieved. At the school administration level, principals are being given increasing discretion as to how funds are to be disbursed; therefore, time spent in discussing educational priorities, and cost-effective means of achieving them may be time well-spent, bearing in mind Gersten and Guskey's (1985) comment on the importance of strong instructional leadership. At the broader system level, decision makers presumably require different information, and assurances about the viability of change of practice.

Perhaps because of frustration at the problems experienced in ensuring effective practices are employed across the nation, we are beginning to see a top-down approach, in which research-based educational practices are either mandated, as in Great Britain (Department for Education and Employment, 1998) or made a pre-requisite for funding, as in the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Whether this approach will be successful in changing teachers’ practice remains to be seen. In any case, there remains a desperate need to address teachers’ and parents’ concerns regarding classroom practice in a cooperative and constructive manner.

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:11 am
by kenm
Neither of your hiighlighted statements suggests that anyone has devised or used an evidence-based method, only that they think it's a good idea.

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:21 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
I see what you mean, Ken, but the statements are ambiguous or misleading at the very least.

Further, I can tell you first hand that when the NLS was rolled out and I, as a primary teacher, had to attend the various training events, there was no reference to any research upon which the NLS was based, advisors delivering the training could not answer my questions as to what research the NLS was based upon - in fact, when I asked this, the tensions were palpable on these occasions.

This tension continued.

For example, when LA training was rolled out specifically to address the gender gap - therefore 'raising boys' literacy levels' and I suggested during a training event that the advisors and local teachers would be interested in the Clack research where the gender gap was reversed, once again the tension was horrendous.

In fact, one of the advisors would not respond to me when I had my hand raised for a considerable time - until another advisor had to prompt her to acknowledge my hand was raised - the first advisor gave me various tellings-off over the years!

I know first hand about the tensions of trying to raise this issue of 'research-based' when it comes to 'phonics' and how people respond who don't like to be quizzed on this.

I digress.

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:55 pm
by Lesley Drake
I don't think it's actually true that the NLS and prior to that, the NLP was not research based. ... nal421.pdf

Whether it was based on the RIGHT research is the point!

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:54 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
Thanks, Lesley, I think you've put your finger on it!

That makes sense.


Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:57 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
My apologies to Kerry Hempenstall then!

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:14 pm
by maizie
To go back to the Reading Recovery based 'Switch -on to Reading' mention in the EEF report on TAs, there's an interesting comment been made on this 'britisheducationpolicy' blog post

http://britisheducationpolicy.wordpress ... e-noticed/

Re: TES: new DfE funded mumbo-jumbo to aid literacy

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:56 am
by Debbie Hepplewhite ... _1_3485698

This is entirely topical! It's not long, do read the full piece.
Research by a university has highlighted the impact of a programme rolled out three years ago in Newham to help primary school children with their reading.

Newham Council launched the Newham Reading Guarantee in 2011 to ensure that no child left school not being able to read or write.

It comprises the use of a structured phonics programme, reading volunteers to help children develop their skill in and enjoyment of reading and one-to-one tuition and support to help children who are behind their peers to catch-up.

When children’s reading abilities were checked through the government’s national Phonics Screening Check it revealed the borough’s schools, on average, exceeded the national average for reading in 2012 and 2013.

Following this, the council brought in Staffordshire University to independently evaluate the programme.
I am wondering if this project is something akin to a Simple View of Reading model rather than a Searchlight multi-cueing model.

No mention of 'Reading Recovery' anyway.

It will be a very interesting and important development if local authorities take some kind of ownership of a Simple View of Reading approach rather than a Reading Recovery approach.

It will be a travesty, however, if in doing this, local authorities and universities simply by-pass the existing rich-content, high-quality programmes because they're wanting all the kudos and wanting to by-pass the 'commercial' element.

Another irony is, however, that of course schools will be using 'commercial' reading books of one description or another - including the cumulative, decodable, commercial books.

This gives a picture of simply leaving out of the picture the existing 'synthetic phonics programmes' per se.

Hmm..... Very frustrating and very sad.

Wheels and reinventing spring to mind.

Further, what occurs to me, is that in pursuing their own 'programmes' with what might be neglect of existing programmes, do they circumvent that all important comparison of which SSP programmes and their recommended practices are really effective?

Or, another factor might be that the project in Newham actually does use full commercial programmes (Lesley's school is in Newham and uses Read Write Inc to fantastic effect for example) - but people are not prepared to outright say that because their actual notion of the 'project' is the combination of the use of a SSP programme plus the volunteer helpers doing the language comprehension side of reading.

How inadequate the article really is, then, in terms of transparent information. :???: