Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

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volunteer
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by volunteer » Wed Oct 01, 2014 9:31 am

It certainly is the case at our school. I hesitate to think that they are unique as, despite being a small school, there's quite a trail of teachers passing through both on the staff and as parents - training, trained and old hands. This doesn't seem to lead to enlightenment of any sort. Still the baskets with the coloured bandings sit in the corridor and children are told which basket they are allowed to choose from. Usually, at the start of each year, children drop back a basket or two as well! They are very "strict" about this. Parental pleas to try a different basket because, for example, the child is bored silly and goofs around rather than reading each night to the parent at home or the parent is bored silly because the child has already picked out the same books 5 times and doesn't like the look of the covers on the remaining books, fall upon deaf ears. There's a strong belief that this could ruin the child's reading progress in some way or, worse still, that these parental requests are purely driven by parental one upmanship, aselfish desire to get ahead of the pack, or a mistaken belief that their child is capable of more.

I've tried to point out, both as a parent and a volunteer, that all their "whole word" scheme reading books contain words with a huge mix of GPCs in them, so why are they being so picky about which basket a child chooses from. In addition to this, they do have a small number of Read Write Inc story books for use in school only, from time to time only. However, they are very strict about which Read Write Inc story books a child is allowed to read and they don't let them read all the ones which tally with the GPCs they have been taught in phonics. Hence, there is a complete lack of logic about how and when to use both types of books. If anyone does try to think about it properly, I think they just then dismiss logical thoughts with the platitude that an able child would pick it all up highly succesfully and quickly by "osmosis" and the teaching at school is just incidental icing on the cake for those that need it.

Reading results at our school are not too badly affected longer term - for a whole mix of reasons - and I am sure will not fall under anyone's microscope. But my guess is that, from the intake they have (mostly privileged middle class and more than its fair share of super wealthy) they could be producing a whole load more well-read book worms than they actually do and, maybe, no year 6s with a reading result of level 3 or less.

It's not just the teaching and learning of reading that is affected by this kind of approach.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:54 am

The publishers of children's reading books are not helping the scenario - they seem more than willing to persist with the 'book-banding' regime despite the Government's heavy emphasis on the need for cumulative, decodable books - there's no apparent morality or sense of responsibility amongst publishers which is very disappointing.

That contributes to my suggestion to promote incidental phonics teaching in addition to a systematic body of work - plus those precocious readers' capacity to learn quickly and beyond many of their peers is addressed by both incidental and systematic phonics teaching.

As part of this approach, information for parents can contribute to more application of phonics support at home rather than resorting to multi-cueing guessing strategies - even to the extent of telling children the words they cannot lift off the page in place of telling the children to guess the word.

This also takes the pressure of children who struggle to read a lot of the words in their school reading books.

Suffice it to say, we still have a very muddled picture of what teachers teach and promote and what reading books are provided for children to read even at the earliest stages of beginning to read. :???:

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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by chew8 » Wed Oct 01, 2014 11:48 am

I think you are too harsh on publishers, Debbie. Several, including OUP, have done a good job on producing decodable books over the past few years. I don't think they should feel they must make all children's books decodable. Problems arise only when these books are included in grading systems such as Book Bands. The fault lies with the people who include them, not with the authors or publshers who produce them.

Jenny C.

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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by volunteer » Wed Oct 01, 2014 1:23 pm

I suppose the issue is that, for a parent going shopping for books to help their child through the initial stages of learning to read, it's baffling and they are more likely to end up purchasing (or hiring via some of the websites that exist for this purpose) a "whole word" set of reading scheme books - or buying a pretty random set of decodable readers and then ending up thinking it's an unsatisfactory way of learning to read.

The colour banding system was useful to a degree I found, once my children could decode at Letters and Sounds phase 5 type of proficiency. It was a useful very rough indicator of the likely readability of a book for a very young reader both from the point of view of vocabulary, layout and "stamina" required.

I wonder if the spelling sections of the primary curriculum are too difficult for the average teacher to follow and translate into something teachable?

chew8
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by chew8 » Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:07 pm

volunteer wrote:The colour banding system was useful to a degree I found, once my children could decode at Letters and Sounds phase 5 type of proficiency. It was a useful very rough indicator of the likely readability of a book for a very young reader both from the point of view of vocabulary, layout and "stamina" required.
I agree that the colour-banding can be a rough indicator of suitability once children have got to a certain decoding level. What bothers me is the sort of books which are deemed suitable at the very lowest levels - e.g. books which contain digraphs etc. when children know only sounds for single letters. I don't blame children for not trying to apply the little phonic knowledge they have when this knowledge doesn't work for most of the words in a book. It's not easy for very young children to spot the very few words which they could decode in amongst all the rest.

Jenny C.
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