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Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:52 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
I too am in support of the universities for further education in principle.

I am aware of a number of universities where people are working hard to provide good training for their student-teachers in synthetic phonics - and liaising well with local schools.

I have some very positive news about Liverpool Hope University. :grin:

Recently I was invited to provide a full day's training event and a further day is booked in the New Year.

The request was for generic information for university lecturers themselves as all lecturers may be called upon to monitor student-teachers providing phonics lessons in their teaching practices.

In addition, I was asked to provide generic information in the synthetic phonics teaching principles for around 180 student-teachers (early years and primary) and to show the materials of the Phonics International and the ORT Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters programmes as student-teachers may encounter various phonics programmes in schools when they do their teaching practices and when they join schools as newly qualified teachers.

In addition, lecturers at University College Birmingham invited myself and Abi Steel to provide talks and workshops in the synthetic phonics teaching principles over a period of three days. Both these universities are very keen to find ways that we can work with them in providing good training and good information.

More recently, I provided a talk at the annual conference of UCET (Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers) and I decided to focus this upon 'The issues underpinning and undermining Synthetic Phonics teaching for reading, spelling and writing for all ages'.

Further, I provided a keynote introduction and two workshops at the University of Northampton - but sadly I blotted my copybook at the end of the conference when I reacted (over-reacted) to the comments which I considered to be anti-phonics made by one of the other speakers. It's much easier to write comments which are measured via the internet rather than commenting in the heat of the moment! :???:

Much to my huge embarrassment. :oops: :oops: :oops:

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:02 pm
by Susan Godsland
University of Chichester: Systematic Synthetic Phonics: Becoming a Teacher of Early Reading

''This webpage is intended to be an on-going resource for our previous students and those interested in the University of Chichester’s approach to teaching Systematic Synthetic Phonics and Early Reading''. ... ng-teacher

''In addition to learning how to teach phonics discretely, University of Chichester trainees are also taught about the principles of Guided Reading''.

''A number of government documents and training materials used by tutors at University of Chichester are available from the following link: ''This site is not endorsed by the Department for Education''

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:13 pm
by Susan Godsland
We're keen to flag up examples of good teaching training practice and information for synthetic phonics:

Here's a booklet from the University College Plymouth St Mark & St John

PGCE Primary (5-11 years)
Initial Stage Work ... 2k&cad=rja

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:55 pm
by Susan Godsland
Another booklet:

Newman University College
Systematic Synthetic Phonics

A University, School-Based Training and
Independent Study Document ... ooklet.pdf
p5 Required reading
Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (2007) Letters and sounds. Norwich: Department for
Education and Skills.
Jolliffe, W., Wagh, D. and Carss, A. (2012) Teaching systematic synthetic phonics in Primary Schools.
London: Sage.
The ability to teach during School Experience requires students to be very familiar with the above
texts. Therefore, it is recommended that you purchase the Jolliffe et al. (2012) text and download
the DfES (2007) materials and refer to them to support your learning during University based
sessions and teaching during School Experience.
'Required Reading' is immediately followed by a list of 'Recommended Reading'. This consists of books written or edited by academics who are known to be anti-synthetic phonics, in the case of Goouch and Lambirth, virulently so.
These books will not help a trainee teacher with teaching synthetic phonics. IMO, recommending these books completely negates any good information they provide in the rest of the document.
Recommended reading
The following texts are part of the wider reading list for the English module:
Goouch, K. and Lambrith, A. (2011) Teaching Early reading and phonics: creative approaches to early
literacy. London: Sage.
Library holdings - 10 copies
Lewis, M. and Ellis, S. (eds.) (2006) Phonics: Practice, research and policy. London: Sage.
Library holdings - 9 copies and also available as an e-book. This book will be used in particular during
the second year of the Undergraduate Programme.
Medwell, J., Wray, D., Minns, H., Coates, E and Griffiths, V. (2012) Primary English: teaching theory
and practice. 5th edn. Exeter: Learning Matters.
Library holdings – 4 copies
Medwell, J., Wray, D., Minns, H., Coates, E and Griffiths, V. (2009) Primary English: teaching theory
and practice. 4th edn. Exeter: Learning Matters.
Library holdings – 4 copies and also available as an e-book

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:57 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
Great news about professional development for student-teachers at Manchester Metropolitan University...

My impression is very positive about good phonics and literacy teacher-training taking place at MMU. I have spoken with some very knowledgeable and enthusiastic lecturers at the university and viewed some of their new literature 'BA Primary Education (QTS) Training and Professional Development Guide: Teaching Phonics' which is very focused on professional development in core phonics knowledge and skills.

I am delighted to say that they have included in full an Alphabetic Code Chart that I designed especially for student-teachers and I have been told that this has been very helpful indeed not only for student-teachers but also for teachers in schools where student-teachers undertake their teaching practices and the mentor-teachers use the booklet to support with monitoring and assessment.

This is the chart designed for student-teachers and anyone interested in using this chart in their literature can contact us at for a print-ready PDF required by professional printers: ... 20Code.pdf

Full acknowledgement is also given in the MMU booklet to Ruth Harrison-Palmer and her team at the University of Cumbria. At a recent UCET conference, Ruth travelled all the way from Carlisle to London with heavy bags full of her university's phonics professional development booklets to give out to attendees - a booklet which also includes one of my generic alphabetic code charts. Subsequently, a number of universities have liaised with Ruth Harrison-Palmer regarding provision and literature at the University of Cumbria.

Both MMU and the University of Cumbria are doing a great job, acknowledged by Ofsted and Nick Gibb, in terms of teacher-training in the synthetic phonics teaching principles. Remember that we were all thoroughly 'wowed' when Ruth Harrison-Palmer spoke at one of our Reading Reform Foundation conferences.

Notably, these universities work closely with local schools and invaluable professional development is taking place with such positive partnerships. Interestingly, I have been told that the schools which have had full professional training days provided for their chosen commercial synthetic phonics programmes are looking like they have increased their professional knoweldge and expertise.


Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:00 pm
by Elizabeth
Excellent news!

Is your chart for student teachers available for anyone?

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:14 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
Definitely Elizabeth - and I've now added a contact email above so that we can supply the particular kind of pdf required by printers.

Also good to see in the MMU literature is a reference direct to Nick Gibb's speech at the latest Reading Reform Foundation conference. :grin:

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:16 pm
by Susan Godsland
This seems to be the MMU booklet that Debbie mentions above. It includes her excellent code chart :grin: ... honics.pdf (warning. very slow download)

Sadly, they've made a dog's dinner of the 'References and Useful Resources' (p39) What a shame
Alphabetic Code Charts and other free resources
Jolly Phonics/Jolly Learning
Phonics International ... urces.html
PhonicsPlay Ltd
Phoneme Pronunciation
Hepplewhite, D. (Phonics International and Floppy Phonics) ... r_embedded
Miskin, R. (Read Write Inc/Ruth Miskin Literacy) ... rogrammes/
Elkin, S. (2010),
Unlocking the Reader in Every Child
. London: Ransom.
Fisher, R. and Williams, M. (eds.), (2006),
Unlocking Literacy
. London: David Fulton.
Goouch, K. and Lambirth, A. (2010),
Teaching Early Reading and Phonics
. London: Sage.
Johnston, R. and Watson, J. (2007)
Teaching Synthetic Phonics
. Exeter: Learning Matters.
Joliffe, W. (2007),
Teach phonics (You can)
. Leamington Spa: Scholastic.
Joliffe, W. and Waugh, D. (2012),
Teaching Systematic Synthetic Phonics in Primary Schools
London: Learning Matters.
Policy and Debate
Department for Education,
Phonics Section
Department for Education, (2011),
The Importance of Phonics: Securing Confident Reading
Publication Reference DfE-00155-2011B.pdf
Gibb, N. (2011), ‘Funding for phonics teaching to improve children’s reading’,
DfE News and
Press Releases
, Press Notice 06 April 2011 ... r-phonics-
Gibb, N. (2011a), ‘Speaking to the reading reform foundation conference’,
DfE Speeches
14th October 2011. ... e-reading-
Goouch, K. and Lambirth, A. (2008),
Understanding Phonics and the Teaching of Reading –
Critical Perspectives
. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
McGeown,S., Johnston, R., Medford, E. (2012), ‘Reading Instruction affects the cognitive
skills supporting early reading development’,
Learning and Individual Differences
, Vol 22,
Issue 3, June 2012, pp 360-364. ... 8012000210
Meek, M. (1991),
On Being Literate
. London: Bodley Head.
Rose, J. (2006) Independent Review of the Teaching of Early Reading ... -0201-2006
Rosen, M. (2012), ‘Letter to Mr Gove regarding the phonics screening test’,
The Guardian Wednesday 13th June
Wyse,D. and Styles, M. (2007), ‘Synthetic phonics and the teaching of reading. The debate
surrounding the ‘Rose Report’.
Literacy 41:1 online ... 0455.x/pdf

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:23 am
by Debbie Hepplewhite
There are good references and materials, Susan, though.

I think we have to accept that universities will inevitably provide a range of references - including some 'old' references and some current hot debate type references.

I, myself, mention the response of people like Rosen in some of my talks.

We don't actually know, and may never know, what 'angle' is provided by individual universities and lecturers - and this may vary widely from university to university and person to person.

I would not want students at universities to learn only of one type of information and one can only hope that students themselves find enough information in the public domain to appreciate the more complete picture of the reading debate.

All the more reason for us to keep providing as much good information as we can and contribute transparently to discussion forums as indeed we do :smile: .

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:19 pm
by Susan Godsland
Someone just tweeted this:

''Would've been great if I'd actually learnt about phonics and the teaching of it in my 3 years doing an education degree''

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:45 pm
by Susan Godsland
I think this booklet is OK, especially if the student goes into a school that uses Letters and Sounds:

Subject Knowledge for Teaching Systematic Synthetic Phonics ... 20quiz.pdf
I did notice this though:
p35. What is the difference between a decodable word and a ‘tricky’ word?
A. decodable word can be decoded by sounding out the phonemes and
blending them together. A ‘tricky’ word’ is a word that has unusual grapheme
-phoneme correspondences that may not have been taught in the early stages
and needs to be taught as a whole word

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:40 am
by Susan Godsland
Big sigh. ... c.23036023
Professor Jim Conroy, from the school of education at Glasgow University, said the widespread use of synthetic phonics at the expense of other methods is damaging reading in the long term.

However, Mr Conroy believes widespread adoption of the technique can be harmful because pupils grow up knowing how to pronounce words without necessarily knowing what they mean.

He argues the technique is labour-intensive and undermines the natural pleasure pupils get from reading stories.

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:08 am
by Susan Godsland
Someone on the Primary English team at the University of Hertfordshire tweeted:
@Clpe1 my colleagues were asked to read this blog on phonics course yesterday. ... t.html?m=1
This is the description of CLPE's 'government approved' phonics course:

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:19 pm
by chew8
One of Rosen’s arguments is that phonics is inconsistent in its approach to irregular words. He says that it gets round the problem by calling them 'tricky' words or 'red' words and doing what it says it’s against – “getting the children to learn them as ‘look and say’ words”.

His reference to ‘tricky’ words and ‘red’ words shows that he has Jolly Phonics and Read Write Inc. in mind. He apparently doesn’t realise that their approach to such words is not quite the same as a look-and-say approach. I wonder, though, whether he and other critics are ever going to get their heads round this sort of point

Jenny C.

Re: What's happening in universities re. SP training?

Posted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 7:01 pm
by Susan Godsland

1st February 2014.

The Writing On The Wall
“It would be good if your training programme presented a more balanced view.”
This oft-posed challenge to those who propose an effective approach to teaching reading, i.e. one that is both rationally and empirically sound - was also put to us recently.

The logical implication of the statement is that our course is not balanced. Presumably, as in a news article, this means that a training programme should present competing points of view and leave trainees to make up their own minds by evaluating the relative merits of the different approaches. However, this would also imply that the competing views must therefore be of equal value if they are to take up equal amounts of time. And this raises two questions: what ‘balance’ really means; and what we are balancing.

Consider the age-old image of Justice, blindfolded, with a sword in one hand and a set of scales, or balances, in the other. If something is not ‘balanced’ then it is by inference unjust. But the purpose of the scales is not to ensure that they are even. It is to assess the weight of one’s testimony against another, and by a process of examination, against the truth. The question is whether, in the balances, your testimony carries weight or whether it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you go up in the scales, and the sword of Justice comes into play. Invoking the analogy of balances is inviting judgement...
Thank you, Thinking Reading.