Reading confusion in my school

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

User avatar
Maltesers
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 6:28 pm

Reading confusion in my school

Post by Maltesers » Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:28 am

I don't really know where to start but recently I started working with a young teacher. I am an HLTA supporting her. She is adamant the way to teach reading is through searchlights with an emphasis on phonics. We have argued a lot about this and I have sent her links to this site etc. My position is becoming untenable because I cannot work with someone like this. She also says that others in the school agree with her. The year one teacher for example. This year in year 2 we had 17 children who couldn't read. The rest weren't much better. I have worked my socks off trying to get these children reading and am being undermined by this teacher by the fact she puts banded books in their bookbags when I have put them on Jelly and Bean. I have got the SLT involved who obviously do not have the knowledge with early reading. Have suggested getting phonics expert in to talk to the school but so far I am beating my head against a brick wall. I am so frustrated and getting to the point of wanting a change of job/year group. Please can anyone give me some links to research which is easy to understand and by someone the teachers in my school will take notice of. Is there anything in OFSTED for example which says NO to searchlights. I look forward to hearing from some of you. A very frustrated and angry TA
www.freeforum101.com/hltastaffroom

www.hltastaffroom.blogspot.com

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

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by maizie » Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:48 am

Does the Rose Report and the government guidance on the teaching of reading, i.e Letters and Sounds, cut no ice with them?

Or even the fact that you are successfully teaching children to read who have patently not learned with the Searchlights methods?

I am so sorry to hear that you are in this situation. I had always got the impression that your school was very supportive of your role. It seems very odd that they should give you so much freedom to work as you want to with 'your' pupils and yet take so little notice of methods which so obviously work well.
Maltesers wrote:Please can anyone give me some links to research which is easy to understand and by someone the teachers in my school will take notice of.
I very much fear that you could wave all the research you like under their noses but it will be trumped by their training and beliefs just about every time (that's if they even bother to read it...)

However, someone on here may come up with a clincher!

It may be no consolation to you, but I know of a very experienced teacher of phonics, who is her school's Literacy Co-ordinator, who has similar problems!

Are you due an Ofsted? Aren't they saying poor reading results at KS1 & 2 will be a trigger for inspection? That might provide a wake up call if the phonics teaching is found to be poor.

Edit:

As the Searchlights are based on the 'Three Cueing' model these critiques might be helpful:

The first is Marilyn Jager-Adams account of how she tried to discover the origin of the 'model'
http://www.balancedreading.com/3cue-adams.html

This is Kerry Hempenstall on the subject

http://www.educationnews.org/articles/t ... count.html

This is an interesting, though technical, description of the mathematical flaws in the 'model', apparently posted in response to Hempenstall's article:

http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage ... ystem.html

On the other hand, this is a very depressing example of belief trumping direct and explicit instruction:

http://www.spring.org.uk/2008/03/50-of- ... we-see.php

Good luck :grin:

User avatar
Maltesers
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 6:28 pm

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by Maltesers » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:47 pm

Thanks Maizie I will take a look at those links.

I have waved the Rose report but don't think there was any intention of reading it. Letters and Sounds teaching is fine in school everyone is on board with that. It is the applying of sounds to reading books which is the problem. They still believe that phonics is one strategy and children need lots of strategies to learn to read books. The teacher told me that children need to look at pictures and guess the word, they need to look at the first letter of the word and guess. If OSTED come in and we are expecting a monitoring visit soon then they will see very good phonics lessons across Foundation/KS1. I am allowed to do what I like with my groups and hence they make good progress. Even in guided reading I use phonics as the only strategy. The problem is that this teacher is undermining me now and playing the 'I am the teacher' card. She just won't see things my way. :cry: I even dropped Debbie's name as the 'phonics advisor' for ORT. She knows the ORT and thought that might carry some weight.

I fear I am getting a bit of a reputation for being a trouble causer but when so many children in your school aren't reading even though they are getting phonics teaching then what on earth can it be, apart from the applying of phonics? and mixed methods?
www.freeforum101.com/hltastaffroom

www.hltastaffroom.blogspot.com

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

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by maizie » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:16 pm

Were your 17 non-readers in Y2 taught with L & S from the start? Can they read anything at all?

Wasn't this always the criticism of the NLS; that mixing some phonics with 'other strategies' didn't work?

Do they get decodable books to practise on in YR/1?

Ofsted are supposed to be listening to children reading, too. I would hope that they have been trained to look a bit further than just the 'good phonics lessons' (I presume that the guessing strategies aren't used in the phonics sessions?) i.e to the end result (can the children actually read text?) and to unpick what may have gone wrong between the lessons and the end result.

volunteer
Posts: 755
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:46 pm

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by volunteer » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:31 pm

Do your phonics lessons include reading decodable stories? How long does each child get each day with what you would consider to be good teaching of decoding? I'm just thinking that if they get enough of the good stuff it might hopefully win over the other methods some of the teachers are peddling if the time spent on that is insignificant by comparison. Have the children covered enough GPCs to be able to read the non-decodables they are being sent home with? If they have, it's not as bad it seems maybe. You could sneak a bit into your phonics lessons on how to tackle new words in their home reading book using phonics first. If they haven't covered sufficient GPCs for the books that are being sent home, how long will it be until they have done so?

On the other issue of trying to prove to your school that you are right in a nutshell, why don't you write, as an individual to someone suitable within the DfE or OFSTED. Maybe Jenny could give you an appropriate name?

Without naming the school, and without complaining, you could write an innocent sounding letter as a puzzled TA explaining your dilemma. If you get a helpful and sensible letter back, you can show this and your original letter to your employer and ask them what they think.

It must be very hard working there right now. However, I don't think they can dismiss you for trying to do what is in fact govmt recommendations right now, but equally you may find many schools doing the same thing as your school. Quite recently I saw our literacy coordinator trying to teach an 8 year old how to read the word piece - it involved going backwards and forwards in the sentence to work out what the word might be, rather than saying p ie (as in field) ce - a ss sound.

What is actually law at the moment in terms of teaching synthetic phonics versus multi-cueing? I guess until the NC is rewritten the law says one thing, and the DfE guidance says another. However, if the standards of reading are as poor as you say they are, the teaching of reading is going to get looked at in detail at the next inspection. What is the their current OFSTED rating and when are they likely to be inspected again? What have ks1 and ks2 results looked like in recent years?

volunteer
Posts: 755
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:46 pm

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by volunteer » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:36 pm

Yes I meant to ask what do you mean by a "phonics lesson"? This is never clear at my own children's school. I had always assumed it included reading and writing but I am starting to have my doubts now. I think that my school just means learning GPCs and reading a small number of words (almost by rote) with those GPCs in them ... nothing more than that. If that's all it is, it's not enough to teach the majority to read is it?

User avatar
Susan Godsland
Administrator
Posts: 4973
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
Location: Exeter UK
Contact:

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:51 pm

There's this:

In Oct 2010 the DfE introduced a revised set of criteria for synthetic phonics programmes. It includes new advice on early texts to practise reading: '(E)nsure that as pupils move through the early stages of acquiring phonics, they are invited to practise by reading texts which are entirely decodable for them, so that they experience success and learn to rely on phonemic strategies. It is important that texts are of the appropriate level for children to apply and practise the phonic knowledge and skills that they have learnt. Children should not be expected to use strategies such as whole-word recognition and/or cues from context, grammar, or pictures.'
http://dfe.gov.uk/schools/teachingandle ... honic-work

-but it's not statutory :sad:

Your situation reminded me of this past blog posting by John Walker:
http://literacyblog.blogspot.com/search ... 20practice

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

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by maizie » Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:11 pm

Susan Godsland wrote:Your situation reminded me of this past blog posting by John Walker:
http://literacyblog.blogspot.com/search ... 20practice
What a good memory you have, Susan :grin:

volunteer
Posts: 755
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:46 pm

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by volunteer » Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:13 pm

Yep, so until the dodgy bit in the NC is rewritten you are technically in no-man's land unless you do persuade them by other means.

However, the more you employ strategies to reduce guessing in your phonics lessons (see other threads on here re. guessing) the more you might find that the children reject this strategy even if it is "taught" to them by their teacher. I do think children are quite capable of discarding some things that teachers tell them if something else is already working better for them.

If you hear children read this is also your chance to reinforce how to use their phonics when they are at home without you. Are any of the parents knowledgeable about how to help a child decipher a new word using phonics?

You bring back to me the ludicrous meeting we had with the literacy governor at our school when I had asked if the children could have decodable books, and if the GPCs could be taught at a faster pace thus allowing children to learn to read using their phonics. The phonics teaching lags what is being met in the reading books by several years. The governor told me that children should be reading new words with various strategies including guessing from the first letter etc. This particular governor is an ex-primary teacher. We agreed to disagree, but I kept on trying to make the point that if you were going to bother teaching phonics at all, wasn't it rather illogical to present it so slowly that it is effectively useless as in the meantime the child is learning to read by other methods. Not even logic works with some people though. I encountered some extreme nastiness and I am just a parent, so I feel for you when it is your workplace, and you care so much about the end product.

User avatar
Susan Godsland
Administrator
Posts: 4973
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
Location: Exeter UK
Contact:

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:16 pm

Sadly, it's a very selective memory, maizie.

Here's a link to the Hargreaves 1996 lecture:

http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Portals/0/PDF ... ecture.pdf

User avatar
Susan Godsland
Administrator
Posts: 4973
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
Location: Exeter UK
Contact:

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:13 pm

However, the more you employ strategies to reduce guessing in your phonics lessons (see other threads on here re. guessing) the more you might find that the children reject this strategy even if it is "taught" to them by their teacher.
:cry:

'If children 'receive contradictory or conflicting instruction, most children prefer to adopt a 'sight word' (whole word) strategy. This seems 'natural', it is easy to do initially, and has some immediate success, that is until visual memory starts to overload...becoming a whole-word (sight-word) reader is not due to low verbal skills, but is a high risk factor in the general population, and something that teachers should curtail at all costs' (emphasis in original. Prof. D .McGuinness. RRF newsletter 51 p19)

‘The selection of text used very early in first grade may, at least in part, determine the strategies and cues children learn to use, and persist in using, in subsequent word identification.... In particular, emphasis on a phonics method seems to make little sense if children are given initial texts to read where the words do not follow regular letter-sound correspondence generalizations. Results of the current study suggest that the types of words which appear in beginning reading texts may well exert a more powerful influence in shaping children’s word identification strategies than the method of reading instruction’(Juel and Roper/Schneider. Reading Research Quarterly 18)

volunteer
Posts: 755
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:46 pm

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by volunteer » Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:29 pm

I was probably being hopelessly optimistic! That is a scary conclusion from that research, considering the proportion of children who are currently being exposed to mixed methods across the country. I just thought maybe that Maltesers had been teaching them very rigorously herself for a couple of years already and the being told to guess was something a new teacher had just done once or twice recently ............. but maybe not! As you say, :cry:

User avatar
Debbie Hepplewhite
Administrator
Posts: 3663
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Location: Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:59 pm

I am 100% sympathetic.

I have had to leave schools because of the lack of whole school approach and lack of interest/knowledge and understanding of colleagues. Ultimately, I simply could not be compromised any longer.

Over the years, our evidence-based challenges have been undermined by the fact that changes to reading guidance are non-statutory. Whilesoever schools can 'choose' how and what to teach for reading instruction, there will always be this dilemma.

I begin my talks and training events stating that it is nothing less than 'Extraordinary' that we reached a point in our English education system where teachers abandoned teaching the alphabetic code and phonics skills.

Let's say the following really slowly, "Children should be taught to read by telling them to look at the first letter of a word to guess the word".

Did you think that you read that correctly? I'll repeat it.

"Children should be taught to read by telling them to look at the first letter of a word to guess the word."

Honestly - how can ANYONE think this makes sense?

Let's try another:

"Children should be taught to read by telling them to look at the picture and guess the word."

Shall I repeat that?

I could go on and on.

ANYONE who can hear/read/believe the description of these so-called 'reading strategies' are straight out of the Naked Emperor story.

Sadly, there was a big crowd in the story. Will we ever reach the day when everyone's eyes are unblinkered by the little boy?

Maltesers: Write a calm, professional report to the headteacher and governors about your concerns and ask them for their feedback.

If that draws a blank - leave the school and find a better niche.

User avatar
Maltesers
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 6:28 pm

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by Maltesers » Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:40 am

maizie wrote:Were your 17 non-readers in Y2 taught with L & S from the start? Can they read anything at all?
Yes they were taught L&S from the start and can blend. We had a class of blenders and I think that is where this teacher feels her strategies are better. She believes that children need to read fluently (agreed) and to do so must use searchlights, including all the guessing and learning of whole words (not agreed). I have proven with 6 of the children that they have learnt to read more fluently just using Jelly and Bean's structured approach. They are picking up tricky words as they go along. Mum's are very happy and on board which they weren't before. The teacher keeps sticking banded books in their bags though which is really messing things up.
volunteer wrote:Do your phonics lessons include reading decodable stories? How long does each child get each day with what you would consider to be good teaching of decoding?
Half an hour a day and we teach L & S. The actual lessons do not include reading stories only sentences/captions. We do however have some decodable books. Most of our books are banded books
Debbie Hepplewhite wrote:I have had to leave schools because of the lack of whole school approach and lack of interest/knowledge and understanding of colleagues. Ultimately, I simply could not be compromised any longer.
This is how I feel right now. Have written a very calm email to DH and at the end have requested a move to KS2 where I know teachers would respect my judgement and I can at least pick those kids up properly later on. Afterall we have more than half a class reading as 4-5 year olds.
Thank you everyone including the private messages for your help.
www.freeforum101.com/hltastaffroom

www.hltastaffroom.blogspot.com

User avatar
Maltesers
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 6:28 pm

Re: Reading confusion in my school

Post by Maltesers » Sat Mar 17, 2012 7:25 pm

Just thought I would let you know that the latest with this is that a meeting is being called of all Foundation/KS1 staff and the Literacy consultant is coming into school. A policy will be made for all staff to adhere to. Now my concern is that ....is she a mixed methods consultant? :shock: I suppose I will soon find out and am ready to take a beating! :roll:

I have a feeling I will be looking for another job
www.freeforum101.com/hltastaffroom

www.hltastaffroom.blogspot.com

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 42 guests