Papermover again

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Papermover
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Papermover again

Post by Papermover » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:08 pm

I hope you don't mind, I just wanted to have a forum to say what I am thinking and feeling at the moment about how my daughter is being taught to read at school. She is in reception and the school have refused to provide her with decodable books as they don't agree with phonics. It's not that they don't teach phonics, they do, slowly, all the children are at the beginning of stage 3 letters and Sounds. It's just the only reading they do is using other strategies.

That was the background. I have been doing my phonic bit at home.

This weekend my daughter spent hours reading to me, because she wanted to. She sounded out lots ( about 50) of magnetic words and we put them into sentences. We read books she could decode and we read the school "old fashioned" books while I covered up the picture cues and read the sounds for her that we haven't learnt.

Today she has had a guided reading session at school. The teacher said she had trouble reading in this session, particularly with the HFW words, the words she is being taught to learn by route. Sure enough, tonight her eyes are all over the place, she was guessing words ( because one word was shoe, she guessed another word as socks, it was spots) . She was reading right to left, so "on"instead of "no". It was a book about sausages, although how they expected her to read a cvcvvvc word with the sound /o/ for au, which she doesnt know, I am not sure.

I am sick with worry, and to be frank, anger. I see no way forward with the head or governors, if I did put in a complaint it would just be a procedure, I am sure nothing would happen. If I thought what I was doing at home was enough, I would be happy, but it isn't enough. Every time she reads at school she comes back to me wildly guessing, forgetting to sound out and looking at words on a page and saying " I can't do it".

I know Debbie said I should write to Ofsted, Gove, the governors etc, and I may have to. I feel sick at the thought of it. This is my daughters school for the next seven years, I don't want to alienate the staff so early on. They had an Ofsted At the end of last summer term ( from Outstanding to Good), so they won't be Ofsed again any time soon.

My partner wants to know what is so bad about the way the school is doing things, if Ofsted think they are all right, they must be. The report said the phonics results were poor, so teachers had been trained to use phonics, it doesn't seem that the teachers put what they have learnt into practice.

To top it all the other parents love the school and trust the head completely, this is North London, the home of the media journalism middle classes. How can I be right and they be wrong?

Can I teach my daughter to read phonetically if every week we go back a few paces after her school lesson? Is it worth rewriting to Gove and Ofsted, or do you think they are both busy with other things ;)

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: Papermover again

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:44 pm

Oh dear - I suspect that you are describing the lot of many children and some parents right now.

In other words, you are not alone.

If and when you decide to write or say something, the fact you have already contributed to various threads and started this one can mean you don't have to write out all the details - as you have a wonderful track record of your experiences, your thoughts, your actions and developments.

In these modern 'internet' times, you can write a short covering letter and get to the heart of your issue/complaint/question by simply linking to your existing, heartfelt scenario as written on mumsnet and on here.

I don't know whether it will do any good - but it certainly won't do any good to do nothing at all.

If you write an 'official' letter in hard copy to Gove and Ofsted, they are duty bound to reply to it.

Then, whether the response seems futile and a waste of time, you can add it to the public domain trail of 'what happened' - and so it goes on.

Sooner or later, this may make a difference.

In the meantime, you need to try to stop agonising over this.

Your worries about your child - plus the direct evidence of what happens to her reading profile with the mixed methods of the school - means that you clearly feel the need to do something.

So, resign yourself to the worse-case scenario that nothing may seem to happen for the better by any actions you may decide to take (e.g. writing to those in authority from the head, to the governing body, to your local MP, to Gove, to Sir Michael Wilshaw, or simply going into school to talk to your child's teacher and head teacher), then consider how you will feel if you do nothing, or if you do something and actually this leads to changes - or psychologically supports other parents in your position.

The teaching profession needs to know that there are parents such as yourself who are increasingly aware of the issue of different reading instruction approaches and who are very concerned for their children's welfare.

It's no longer enough to tell parents to leave it to the professionals.

This is high-stakes life chance stuff for at least some children.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: Papermover again

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:59 pm

Ofsted may well be a waste of time.

Wilshaw is on record right now as saying Ofsted inspectors should not be commenting on how teachers teach.

A group of us have complained to Ofsted re their provision of video footage of three schools they describe as 'outstanding' and yet the phonics practice we see is not at all outstanding and does no favours to the teaching profession - it may mislead them badly.

Eventually we put in a formal complaint about Ofsted to Michael Gove and he handed the complaint over to Ofsted - the very people we had complained about!

Thus, we received yet another letter from Ofsted saying pretty much the same thing as before.

In other words, it seems that Ofsted itself is not accountable.

They should, arguably, show no video footage of any kind of practice if Wilshaw states this is not the concern/brief of Ofsted.

It's all very confusing at the moment.

Papermover
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Re: Papermover again

Post by Papermover » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:25 pm

Thanks for "listening" Debbie.

I am interested in what you say about the paper trail, and the issue being in the public domain. I have been concerned that the school will work out that Paprrnocer is ME, it's quite liberating to TELL them it is. I've been talking to other parents, parents who weren't concerned before I started talking to them and may either think I am mad, or may find this and the Munsnet thread useful.

I'll show my partner your post about Ofsted, thank you.

I've tried to talk to the teacher, she directed me straight to the head. I've spoken to them both, I have heard the RR teacher speak and a deputy's take on learning to read. I have seen a guided reading lesson. While its lovely the school took the time and trouble with me, none of the things I hVe seen or heard have been positive.

I suppose I don't know if my first step should be a formal complaint to the school. However while those wheels are in motion, probably not going anywhere, I feel I am wasting time.

I would like to point out this isn't political on my part.

cartwheel
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Re: Papermover again

Post by cartwheel » Tue Jan 28, 2014 3:05 am

Papermover,
Your child's experience is not uncommon. As a tutor I consistently see my students' reading go down-hill after returning to school in September. I warn the parents that this is likely to happen for the less skilled of my students. It is the weakest students who suffer the most. [I had one 9-year old student who cried to his parents before heading back to school: "They're going to make me guess! I don't want them to make me guess!"]
Students who already decode well simply ignore the advice to look at pictures or the first letter and then guess the word. Actually, I don't know if "ignore the advice" is quite accurate, because skilled readers' decoding skills are so AUTOMATIC that it would actually take extra effort for them to start looking around the page and further along in the sentence to figure out a word. They automatically slow down and figure out what sounds the letters are "telling" them to say.

That said, parents' and tutors' efforts, if consistent, can overcome the problem. But what a shame; it takes so much longer to create a skilled reader when this extra time and effort has to be put in to counteract the guessing habits instilled in many schools (the vast majority of schools here in the U.S.)

One minor question: Is it you or your child who feels compelled to work through the inappropriate Whole Language books the school sends home? Perhaps tell the teacher your child will be reading phonic-progressive books until an independent reader? Just a thought.

Your position as an SP advocate in England is much stronger than mine here in the U.S., where the term "synthetic phonics" is generally unknown. But parents even here have managed to bring about some changes, at least towards inclusion of some phonics (where before it was almost non-existent). Any activism you engage in might well take too long to affect your own child, but it could very well help dozens or hundreds of other children.

Jennie

yvonne meyer
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Re: Papermover again

Post by yvonne meyer » Tue Jan 28, 2014 4:00 am

To top it all the other parents love the school and trust the head completely
These parents have been sold snake oil. By the time they work out that the snake oil doesn't work, their kids will be behind and some may never catch up.

Also, there may well be other parents who think the same as you do, but also think they are the only ones who can see the problem.

When I complained to the Head Teacher at my son's school, the other parents shunned me because they were afraid of being seen to be agreeing with me and thereby annoy the teachers who would 'get back' at the parents by being mean to the children. However, after I took legal action against the school, I had some parents coming over to my house to drop off bunches of flowers.

I could have done with some support during my battle but it was good to know that I wasn't alone, even at that late stage.

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Re: Papermover again

Post by john walker » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:39 pm

I suppose that, like me, just about everyone who reads Papermover's posting will be very sorry that she is in such a position and furiously annoyed by the complacency of the head. On the big picture, I have to say that I have never put my trust in the powers that be. There is a very simple reason for this: very, very few of them know what phonics is or how the writing system relates to the sounds of the language. Oh, they may, as some do, declare that they are very much in favour of phonics teaching but, even those, when you really get down to the detail, suddenly stumble and hesitate because they're not sure what they're talking about.
So, what to do? Well, I certainly don't disagree with Debbie, Yvonne, or Cartwheel. It's definitely worth taking something of a stand. Not many people have the kind of courage I know both Debbie and Yvonne have when it comes to fighting their corners. So, you need to be aware of what you are taking on. However, as suggested in Yvonne's posting, although many parents are cowed by a more vociferous (and sometimes smug) minority whose children, for one reason or another, have made a good start, you'll probably find that there are many others who are as worried as you are. Still, even if you do pursue the more militant tactic of complaining to people further up the chain, and even were the head to have a Damascene moment and decide that you are right after all, it would take a long time to get the staff trained. You may, in the meantime, have struck a blow for those who come after, but you'll still be saddled with the same problem.
I would offer to take your daughter myself but, as I live in Buckingham, that is probably not possible. The only other thing I can offer is a free place for you on one of our Sounds-Write courses. I do this occasionally for good causes. [Next week, we're training a young woman on the same basis to go to Zambia, where the school is miles from anywhere and they have no resources but are desperate to become literate in English.] That way, you can do it yourself.
If you go to our website and look at the training dates and locations and you find a course you might be interested in, I will arrange it for you. You'll get four days of tuition and receive a manual containing all the resources you'll need to teach your daughter.
So, I'd walk on both feet, as they say. Pursue one avenue by complaining - Gill Jones, who is head of Primary Ofsted now may well lend a sympathetic ear; and, either find a good knowledgeable tutor who can take on the job of teaching your daughter, or learn how to do it yourself.
John Walker
Sounds-Write
www.sounds-write.co.uk
http://literacyblog.blogspot.com

Papermover
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Re: Papermover again

Post by Papermover » Tue Jan 28, 2014 2:45 pm

Thank you Debbie, Yvonne and Cartwheel, and a big thank you to John. I gave a big "squeak" when I read your post, which sort of gave away my sneaky work interneting. I will be back after work.

Many thanks

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Re: Papermover again

Post by kenm » Tue Jan 28, 2014 5:33 pm

Until all primary schools teach reading adequately, I would recommend parents to teach their children to read before they attend school.* With our home-bred children (we adopted two more, one at the age of 6) our strategy was to start soon enough that we expected them to be sufficiently fluent before attending school that no instruction would be able to upset them. I wonder whether we were just lucky that this worked out. How much evidence is there that teaching a three-year-old to read has bad effects on his/her learning?

* There is no statutory age for school attendance, only for "full-time" education, which may be at home by parents. You don't even have to tell anyone that you are doing this; the clauses that would have made it mandatory to meet LA expectations were removed from the new Education Act in the "wash-up" meetings at the end of the previous Administration (early 2010).
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

chew8
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Re: Papermover again

Post by chew8 » Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:01 pm

kenm wrote:Until all primary schools teach reading adequately, I would recommend parents to teach their children to read before they attend school. With our home-bred children (we adopted two more, one at the age of 6) our strategy was to start soon enough that we expected them to be sufficiently fluent before attending school that no instruction would be able to upset them. I wonder whether we were just lucky that this worked out.
We've done the same with our children and grandchildren, kenm, and it 'worked out' fine for us, too. We wanted them to start school good enough at reading that 'no reading instruction would be able to upset them' but also that no teachers would be able to quibble, whatever their own definition of reading. We hoped that the children would not be regarded as needing further teaching (which would have been largely whole-word at the time) and would just be left to read books at their own level -this was what happened.

Jenny C

Papermover
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Re: Papermover again

Post by Papermover » Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:57 pm

"walking on both feet" is a good plan.

It's really difficult feeling like a trouble maker, and that is how I feel when I go into the school, or talk to other parents. I think I am seen as making trouble for the sake of it. What the school don't seem to realise is exactly how high stake the problems are. It is gauling to hear how good other children are at reading, and being made to feel that I am somehow damaging my daughter. However I also feel like I need to do something, I can't let this go. I am not very good at seeing problems, and just ignoring them.

I need to gather some more information from the school. I know they do teach phonics, so I need to find out at what speed, and what use they think it is if they don't encourage it's use for reading. I would like to know about hadwriting in the early years, my daughter has said she writes on a big computer screen to do sounds. Her letter formation is pretty bad, and it's difficult getting her to reform her letter shapes now she has learnt them incorrectly. However maybe that is just her, I have seen the writing of other children in her class and some of it is much better. Although her fine motor control is better than mine and holding the pencil correctly has long been natural for her.

As for the school readers, well she has to read them at school. I have asked for her not to be given them, but this request was refused. I suppose I was seeing if she could read them now, using her decoding knowledge. They are only red book band, so I hoped I could relax a little, leave her to decode. What I hadn't banked on was the way the books are set out, they draw the child TO use the pictures. There were too many graphemes ( is that the right word), that she doesn't know such as /ur/ in shirt, /o/ in sausages. So I won't be bothering reading them with her at home again, it's not as if I am missing out on any great literature.

I wish I had taught herto read before she started school. This is part of my bugbear; if only the school published their policy I could have done. We both had the time and the energy last year to do so. I am pretty sure that the school feels that if we don't like it we can take our "parental choice" elsewhere, but the reality is different.

I'm not going to take her out of school, she loves people, she loves her classmates and the whole school, the big kids, the playground, the uniform! I couldn't educate her myself at home, not solely, she would go mad and I couldn't pay the rent! However, if only I had known. Hindsight is wonderful though. I do really want to teach her to read myself though, I can't stand the thought of her not being able to access information. I don't want her to feel embarrased because she can't spell, I know how that feels.

As for Sounds-write training, that is such a generous offer and really ideal for me. I started out with some Jolly Phonics bits, then with Debbie's kind help have moved onto PI. However I do feel the need for personal interaction and explanation, that is how I learn best. I feel I am floundering a bit, it's such a steep learning curve and I have no one in real life to share it with. If I try I think I come across as a pushy parent, but that isn't the point at all.

So thank you all.

yvonne meyer
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Re: Papermover again

Post by yvonne meyer » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:46 am

So I won't be bothering reading them with her at home again, it's not as if I am missing out on any great literature.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Wait till you see what's on offer in 'Young Adult' fiction! I'm sure publishers give authors the Dolch list of 100 most common words and tell them to not use any word that's not on the list.

'Good' literature probably won't make an appearance until the last couple of years of high school and then, if my son's experience is anything to go by, the English Literature teacher will put on DVD of the book or play and tell the students to read the text at home. My son's class were forced to sit through 5 different a versions of Romeo & Juliet. Very few read a single printed word and most got a high score in the exam.

Papermover
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Re: Papermover again

Post by Papermover » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:28 am

Sigh, I know. My book shelves hold many classic childrens' books that have been withdrawn from library stock to make way for books about Shopping Princess Kittens.

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maizie
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Re: Papermover again

Post by maizie » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:33 am

Papermover wrote:Sigh, I know. My book shelves hold many classic childrens' books that have been withdrawn from library stock to make way for books about Shopping Princess Kittens.
Now, that's another thing that makes me furious! When did all this gender stereotyping take such a strong hold? 30 years ago we were all trying to bring our children up to ignore the stereotypes! Are they rebelling against us now :???:

geraldinecarter
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Re: Papermover again

Post by geraldinecarter » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:50 pm

I hate 'advertising' but this is exactly why we created the Mature Reading Instruction readers; 70+ lively, witty stories within strict synthetic phonics' boundaries. 80,000 words, but short stories, incrementally difficult, to help emerging older children and adults understand how the alphabet code works and acquire the habits of sustained reading. I'm immensely sad that we only offer very limited material for older struggling ch/adults. For some, these will be the kick-start they need but many will still be left starved of core knowledge, stimulating stories. Most material for older learners don't begin to introduce core knowledge and factual and literary treasures that should be part of their birthright. It's a lack of opportunity that I mind so that people are denied choice. We seem so frightened of both giving struggling readers the tools they need and challenging them to aim higher, wider, deeper.

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