Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

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

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

Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by Susan Godsland » Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:22 am

Too many primary school children in Stoke-on-Trent are falling behind in their reading, Ofsted finds

http://ofsted.gov.uk/news/too-many-prim ... ed-finds-0
The key judgments of the report found that:

The teaching of reading required improvement or was inadequate in seven of the twelve schools visited;
Almost all of the schools failed to link effectively the teaching of early reading and early writing;
Too little thought was given to ensuring pupils read a broad range of books on a regular basis; and
Low expectations of pupils’ reading skills in four of the schools was limiting their progress.

The report outlines a number of recommendations to schools in Stoke-on-Trent to help improve the reading and writing of pupils in the city. This includes:

Ensuring leaders and staff are familiar with, and prepared for, the 2014 National Curriculum programme for reading;
Making sure phonics is used as the primary strategy for teaching early reading;
Improving the assessment of pupils’ attainment and holding teachers to account for their progress; and
Communicating better with parents about how their children are being taught to read and the progress they are making.
Ready to read? How a sample of primary schools in Stoke-on-Trent teach pupils to read
http://ofsted.gov.uk/resources/ready-re ... upils-read

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

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by Susan Godsland » Thu Jun 26, 2014 2:50 pm

This document is a 'must read'

http://ofsted.gov.uk/resources/ready-re ... upils-read

Ready to read? How a sample of primary schools in Stoke-on-Trent teach pupils to read
Findings

 In seven of the 12 schools visited, the teaching of reading required improvement
or was inadequate. Inadequate teaching of reading was observed in all of these
seven schools, notably in Key Stage 2, Year 1 and, to a lesser extent, the Early
Years Foundation Stage. Consistently weak teaching of reading was observed in
three of the seven schools.
 In the five schools where the teaching of reading was judged to be good, children
got off to a flying start learning to read in the Early Years Foundation Stage and
their early success was built on in the following year groups.
 Lesson observations indicated that the teaching of reading was marginally better
in the Early Years Foundation Stage than in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
 All the 11 primary schools with Key Stage 1 provision taught phonics (letters and
the sounds they make) in Reception and nine taught phonics in Nursery.
 Not all the schools taught early reading using phonic decoding as ‘the route to
decode words’, as required by the national curriculum 2014. Three headteachers
were unaware of this requirement in the new programme of study.
 Almost all of the schools visited used a range of early reading books to teach
young children to read. Many of these books, however, were not ‘closely matched
to pupils’ developing phonics knowledge and knowledge of common exception
words’.1 In other words, the books used did not support young children to
practise and apply the phonics they were learning.
 Four of the schools did not send home phonically decodable books so that
children could practise their new knowledge and skills at home.
 The teaching of phonics was not always of good quality and pupils did not
progress quickly enough in several of the sessions observed.
 In almost all of the schools visited, the teachers observed did not teach children
to form the letters correctly when they taught the sounds. In these schools,
teachers did not link the teaching of early reading with that of early writing well
enough. The interpretation is that they failed to understand the vital contribution
of phonics to spelling.
 The general picture emerging from the schools visited was of a decline in
attention to the teaching of reading as pupils get older. Too few of the schools
visited taught reading well at Key Stage 2.
 In almost all of the schools visited, the main vehicle for teaching reading at Key
Stage 2 was a daily, guided reading session. In the less effective schools this was
rarely of good quality.
 Teachers in Key Stage 2 rarely provided sufficient guidance to pupils about their
wider reading. Too little thought was given to ensuring that pupils read a broad range of books and, in most of the schools visited, pupils in Key Stage 2 did not read enough books.
 Some schools did not always cater well for older pupils whose reading skills were
weak. Five of the schools did not check the phonic skills of older pupils in Key
Stage 2. In these schools, teachers’ knowledge of how children learn to read and
how reading should be taught as they get older was observed to be insecure.
 In four schools, low expectations of pupils’ reading skills limited their progress: if
pupils were making expected progress overall from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2,
leaders and teachers considered this to be sufficient, even if pupils’ reading
attainment was lower than average and the gap between the schools’ reading
results and the national figures were not closing.
 The assessment of pupils’ reading was over-reliant on teacher assessment in
most of the schools. Although commercial, standardised reading tests to assess
pupils’ reading ability were typically in use, few used the results to triangulate
teacher assessment with other forms of assessments. Two schools reported using
the information as a management tool to check the progress made by all pupils
and to hold teachers to account. Only three of the schools visited reported the
reading ages of pupils to their parents.
 Too few of the senior and middle leaders in the less effective schools visited
monitored directly the teaching of reading, especially in Key Stage 2.
 Although nine of the 12 schools had a whole school reading policy that ‘set out’
how reading would be taught from the Early Years Foundation Stage to Year 6,
most of these policies were vague expressions of intent rather than ‘nonnegotiable’
directions. In three schools, decisions about how reading was to be
taught and how often pupils read or were heard to read by an adult were left to
the discretion of individual class teachers.
 Six of the schools visited were ready to implement the 2014 national curriculum
programme of study for reading.

User avatar
Debbie Hepplewhite
Administrator
Posts: 3644
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Location: Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:00 pm

Well, well, well - that very clear statement of what is expected of early years and primary schools should be sent to every setting in the land.

User avatar
Debbie Hepplewhite
Administrator
Posts: 3644
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Location: Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:09 pm

Not everything that Ofsted publishes gives the clearest message about teaching provision, however.

A group of national specialists in literacy and phonics formally complained to Ofsted (Sir Michael Wilshaw) and to Michael Gove about the appearance of the video clips on the Ofsted site entitled, 'Literacy: the non-negotiables'.

Despite a very hard-sounding title (that is: 'non-negotiables'), the video footage showed some very 'extraneous' practice (what I call 'pink and fluffy').

Almost a year of letters, phone calls, meetings and papers made no difference to Ofsted and they would not remove the videos despite our strong message that the practice seen on them was not 'best' practice and it undermined our training for teachers - it also undermined the message that the DfE was giving teachers about avoiding 'circuitous' practice.

I blogged about this some time ago:

http://debbiehepplewhite.com/?p=48

Ofsted needs to take responsibility for giving mixed messages to teachers and to ignoring the very experienced feedback from some of the leading phonics and literacy specialists in the field.

kenm
Posts: 1495
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Berkshire

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by kenm » Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:32 pm

Debbie Hepplewhite wrote:Not everything that Ofsted publishes gives the clearest message about teaching provision, however.
[...]
Ofsted needs to take responsibility for giving mixed messages to teachers and to ignoring the very experienced feedback from some of the leading phonics and literacy specialists in the field.
I get the impression that Ofsted inspectors vary in capability, and that much of the organisation is not fit for purpose.
Ofsted wrote:even if pupils’ reading attainment was lower than average and the gap between the schools’ reading results and the national figures were not closing.
Do they submit their reports to a vetting officer? "the gap" is singular. When I was writing Technical Reports at RAE my vetting officer or my line manager would have told me to change a sentence like this. If you argue that "were" is a subjunctive (and I am doubtful whether it is appropriate here) then the earlier "was" should also be "were".
"... 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
Posts: 4140
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by chew8 » Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:55 pm

Debbie wrote:A group of national specialists in literacy and phonics formally complained to Ofsted (Sir Michael Wilshaw) and to Michael Gove about the appearance of the video clips on the Ofsted site entitled, 'Literacy: the non-negotiables'.
I think I've pointed out before, but in case not...

The title of the video clips is 'Literacy: a non-negotiable', not 'Literacy: the non-negotiables'. It is literacy that Ofsted regards as 'non-negotiable', which is not the same as the suggestion that the particular practices shown are non-negotiable. If criticisms have been based on a misreading, Ofsted will have had some justification for not acting on them.

Jenny C.

geraldinecarter
Posts: 990
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:40 pm

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by geraldinecarter » Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:20 pm

'and, in most of the schools visited, pupils in Key Stage 2 did not read enough books....' throw-away line but crucially important. Maybe Tristram Hunt will take a close look at what is happening on his home patch?

john walker
Posts: 369
Joined: Sun Nov 16, 2003 10:46 am
Location: Buckingham
Contact:

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by john walker » Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:31 am

Firstly, well done to Susan for drawing attention to this very important report. It's the detail that is so interesting. And, you're right, Debbie: the report should be read as widely as possible.
I get the impression that Ofsted inspectors vary in capability, and that much of the organisation is not fit for purpose.
You can say that again, Ken! Andrew Old has been pursuing this very issue with Ofsted for some time now.
The title of the video clips is 'Literacy: a non-negotiable', not 'Literacy: the non-negotiables'. It is literacy that Ofsted regards as 'non-negotiable', which is not the same as the suggestion that the particular practices shown are non-negotiable. If criticisms have been based on a misreading, Ofsted will have had some justification for not acting on them.
I believe you've hit the nail on the head here, Jenny. It all keeps coming down to the practices.
In the meantime, being a Stokie myself, the report makes v. painful reading :sad:
John Walker
Sounds-Write
www.sounds-write.co.uk
http://literacyblog.blogspot.com

User avatar
Debbie Hepplewhite
Administrator
Posts: 3644
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Location: Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:32 pm

You are right, Jenny, you have pointed that error out before - and I have been sloppy again about the precision of my posting - I'm sorry. :oops:

Jenny wrote:
I think I've pointed out before, but in case not...

The title of the video clips is 'Literacy: a non-negotiable', not 'Literacy: the non-negotiables'. It is literacy that Ofsted regards as 'non-negotiable', which is not the same as the suggestion that the particular practices shown are non-negotiable. If criticisms have been based on a misreading, Ofsted will have had some justification for not acting on them.
What I don't agree with, however, is what you said here:
If criticisms have been based on a misreading, Ofsted will have had some justification for not acting on them.
The criticisms the phonics and literacy specialists had of the footage were not based on a mis-reading - they were based on a number of things shown on the video - and also the fact that Ofsted's role, arguably, is not to show video footage as this may unduly influence or mislead teachers as to the politics and pressure of "What Ofsted want to see in their schools''.

A number of us went to extraordinary lengths to be very explicit on many levels of debate.

We suggested that schools would view the videos and think of the phonics practice seen, for example, as 'outstanding' by Ofsted's definition.

This has happened. I know of instances.

The criticism was both specific to the videos' content and the point of principle regarding Ofsted's role/remit.

We found out later that other people were very critical of Ofsted's role in influencing types of teaching practice in their reporting - headed up by 'Andrew Old' who has closely scrutinised for some time and in some detail Ofsted's form of reporting. There is a deep debate currently about progressive v traditional education and whether Ofsted has had too much influence regarding the type of practices in schools.

Schools can produce video footage. Programme authors, teacher-trainers, publishers - can all legitimately produce video footage - but should Ofsted?

Ofsted's response was that the their videos were "well received" in conferences. So what?

And, anyway, how many polite people attending an Ofsted conference are likely to tell Ofsted that the videos showed very weak practice - or perhaps would even think deeply enough to evaluate the practice as weak or potentially flawed?

We were told that trainee inspectors could view the footage with "a critical eye" - but there is no such warning appearing next to the video footage on the internet.

There were long exchanges of papers, letters, conversations - none of which included the points we raised being properly or fully addressed.

I can assure you that despite my sloppy posting above, the attention we went to collectively and individually was not at all sloppy.

Ofsted was not justified in ignoring our worries and criticisms.

On the contrary, the people who wrote, met and spoke to Ofsted representatives on the phone have worked extraordinarily hard in a massive task to raise standards across the country - indeed internationally - and have exceptional experience. It should have been a very powerful and concerning message to Ofsted that people with apparently 'competing' programmes would collaboratively complain.

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

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:47 pm

A short article has just appeared in the Stoke Sentinel re. the Ofsted report on local schools.

http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/12-schoo ... ified=true
Ofsted refused to tell The Sentinel at which of the 12 schools inspectors found evidence of inadequate teaching of reading.
John Walker responded:
Ofsted in Stoke-on-Trent: Don't the parents of the children (over 7,000 of them!) at the failing schools and the people of Stoke-on-Trent have a right to know which of the twelve schools are not teaching their children to read and write to a standard that will enable them to cope, eventually, with the challenges they will face at secondary school? More than most areas of Britain, the six towns and Newcastle-under-Lyme have suffered dreadfully from the disappearance of almost all of the traditional industries. Now, more than at any time, it is absolutely vital for children in schools in the Potts to get the very best teaching in reading, writing and basic mathematics so that they can go on to develop whatever potential they have and go on to find employment. Yet, three of the head teachers involved in the small sample taken by Ofsted – one wonders what some of the rest of the schools are like! – weren't even aware of the new requirements of the new national curriculum. I don't blame the classroom teachers in the schools concerned. What they need is training. Most institutions of initial teacher training do not train teachers in how to teach reading and spelling with anything like the rigour required when this, above all else, is the basis for all future learning. Teaching children to become literate is very much more complex than many people outside the profession think, especially those who found learning the skill very easy when they were children. It is a highly specialised skill and it needs proper, thorough training if teachers are to do it well. It can't be done in a twilight session after school and it can't be done in a single day. To teach an understanding of how the sounds of the language relate to the spelling system, as well as the skills needed to teach it, requires expertise. Although the present government did recognise the massive tail of underachievement in this area of teaching, where they blundered very badly was in providing primary schools with matched funding that could be spent on resources or training. Needless to say, hardly any spent their money on training, with the result that things have barely changed. So, what's the message? Train the teachers! John Walker

chew8
Posts: 4140
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by chew8 » Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:50 pm

As you yourself say, Debbie, the wording in your posting was 'sloppy' - I was simply going on that.

Jenny C.

User avatar
maizie
Administrator
Posts: 3120
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:38 pm
Location: N.E England

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by maizie » Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:58 pm

Ofsted refused to tell The Sentinel at which of the 12 schools inspectors found evidence of inadequate teaching of reading.
Surely a trawl through the schools' inspection reports available on the Ofsted site would soon reveal that information.

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

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by Susan Godsland » Mon Jun 30, 2014 6:17 pm

The tip of the iceberg
The recent Ofsted report ‘How a sample of primary schools in Stoke-on-Trent teach pupils to read’ makes shocking reading. It is a small sample of only twelve primary schools (out of 77) in Stoke-on-Trent and yet the report declares that in seven out of that twelve, ‘reading was not taught well enough’ and that six of the schools ‘were not well prepared for the requirements of the new national curriculum’. Moreover, it estimates that ‘over 7,000 children go to a school that is judged inadequate or as requires improvement’.

So, the first question that springs immediately to mind is: if that’s what nearly sixty per cent of the schools are like in a small sample, what is happening in the other 65 primary schools in Stoke-on-Trent?
http://literacyblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014 ... eberg.html

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

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by Susan Godsland » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:14 pm

This school's Ofsted report has just been drawn to my attention. The school gets very good results in the phonics screening check - 91% this year.
http://www.adderleyprimary.co.uk/index. ... ted-report

In the school's latest Ofsted report (p6) it says:
The teaching of phonics is consistent and secure. Pupils are confident to use what they have learned to tackle new words confidently. However, some children rely too much on this strategy in their reading and do not use other methods to help them read and make sense of their book.
In the Ofsted report 'Ready to read? How a sample of primary schools in Stoke-on-Trent teach pupils to read' it says p10
The guidance to schools makes clear that phonics alone should be taught initially and that teaching other strategies alongside phonics is not recommended.

:?:

chew8
Posts: 4140
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Ofsted: teaching reading in Stoke-failing children

Post by chew8 » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:50 pm

The Stoke report also makes good points about decodable books.

Jenny C.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests