The realities of schools' different phonics provision

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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The realities of schools' different phonics provision

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:49 am

I'm building up a thread on my Phonics International forum regarding the realities of phonics teaching and learning practices and their 'effectiveness' across our schools.

I believe the time is right, overdue in fact, that there was a proper investigation into the differences of phonics provision in our schools.

Currently, we have the Year One Phonics Screening Check results which provide an invaluable form of 'indicator' of teaching effectiveness - but I suggest we need more than this to really understand the differences in phonics practice between schools.

I found myself wanting to learn a lot more about a Year Two intervention that is being heavily funded by the Government - for example, what is happening in the Reception and Year One classes for so many children failing to reach the Year One Phonics Screening Check benchmark?


http://www.phonicsinternational.com/for ... .php?t=847

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Re: The realities of schools' different phonics provision

Post by kenm » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:31 pm

Debbie Hepplewhite wrote:I believe the time is right, overdue in fact, that there was a proper investigation into the differences of phonics provision in our schools .... I found myself wanting to learn a lot more about a Year Two intervention that is being heavily funded by the Government - for example, what is happening in the Reception and Year One classes for so many children failing to reach the Year One Phonics Screening Check benchmark?
How should it be investigated, and by whom? Does OFSTED have inspectors who can tell the difference between phonics taught well and phonics taught badly?
"... 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

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Re: The realities of schools' different phonics provision

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:21 am

Does OFSTED have inspectors who can tell the difference between phonics taught well and phonics taught badly?
That is one almighty big question. :roll:

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Re: The realities of schools' different phonics provision

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:24 am

I think Ofsted should invite all the leading programmes' authors/trainers to present their programmes and guidance to all inspectors.

I believe the whole teaching profession and all Ofsted inspectors should be 'trained' and knowledgeable about SSP.

The only way to really know what to look for is to properly understand the rationale of the specific programmes and practices AND SSP in generic terms.

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Re: The realities of schools' different phonics provision

Post by chew8 » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:11 am

It’s important to show not just that virtually all children can succeed in the Year 1 phonics check if they are well taught but also that those children go on to read well for meaning etc., because that is what ultimately counts. The Key Stage 1 results are already showing the right kind of trend, but the first products of the Y1 phonics check are still only in Y4. In due course, secondary schools should notice a difference, but the trouble is that the connection may not be obvious when there is such a time-lag. I was very aware of the time-lag problem when I was teaching 6th formers: I felt that spelling difficulties could probably be traced back to the whole-word/whole-language teaching the students had received at infant level, but I couldn't prove it.

Some testing which I’ve done suggests that the average reading age in Y3, on a single-word reading test, may now be about 3 months higher than it was before the Y1 phonic check was introduced. Much larger-scale testing would need to be done to show whether or not this is typical, however, and it would have to be shown that comprehension has also improved.

Jenny C.

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Re: The realities of schools' different phonics provision

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:43 am

I think that it's a great pity formal national assessment for higher-order literacy isn't in the form of a simple reading comprehension test in Year Two - along with a further word-level decoding component.

As it stands, it is 'teacher assessment' of higher-order reading and writing at the end of Year Two - rather than a standardised reading test of some description.

In fact, what a shame that Year Three (not Year Two) isn't the focus year for the next national assessment in terms of, for example, writing capability.

One reason I suggest this is because there is a huge amount of pressure on Year Two teachers to teach genre for writing with national assessments looming - compared to allowing Year Two teachers to focus on consolidating phonics for both reading and spelling - and good sentence formation, structure and punctuation - for example.

So, I'm not suggesting not introducing 'genre' in the infants, but I am suggesting that it is premature and too pressurising to add high-stakes national assessment into the mix by the end of Year Two.

This also means that any children who did not do so well in the Year One Phonics Screening Check become the 'special needs' children in Year Two whereas they do not have to fall into this category at this stage at all.

We are still at the point where we need to be looking very closely at phonics teaching content and quality - and this is aided by looking at national results of course - that is the 'indicator' - but not the deep analysis and necessary understanding of why some schools manage to teach virtually ALL their children to decode a range of words well by the end of Year One and other schools do not.

No-one denies that schools have very different intakes and challenges, but we have already seen that the 'leafy suburb school' or 'county' plus the 'better readers' do not necessarily fare well in the Year One Phonics Screening Check.

That should speak volumes about different 'diets' in Reception and Year One for the children in different schools.

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Re: The realities of schools' different phonics provision

Post by chew8 » Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:20 pm

Even if the Key Stage 1 results depend on teacher assessment, I've found, in 14+ years of working voluntarily with 90-odd Y3 children per year, that those results are reasonably reliable in most cases: they correlate pretty well with the results of standardised word-reading and spelling tests and with my own impressions of the children's fluency and comprehension as they read to me. I've said this several times before.

So although there might be even better ways of checking that a good phonics grounding makes for better all-round literacy, I think that what we have at present does a reasonable job. It can at least be seen as a bird in the hand.

Jenny C.

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