The latest government-funded phonics project in England:

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The latest government-funded phonics project in England:

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:00 am

http://www.lincolnshireecho.co.uk/Linco ... story.html
Lincolnshire primary school gets £10,000 from the Government as reward for phonics reading success
I've never known such an annoying online news item with so many advertisements and interruptions to the text with pop-up advertising - dearie me.

The story is about an academy where 100% of the Year One children reach or exceed the benchmark in the Year One Phonics Screening Check. The academy receives £10,000 of government funding to disseminate its phonics practice to other local schools.

This initiative appeared to have a very short time-span of advertising its existence and I was only alerted to it by someone else telling me - in other words, I'm not sure that it was well advertised at all. I wonder if this was deliberate.

Nevertheless, it shows that Nick Gibb is still attempting to highlight the need for high-quality phonics teaching.

At the Reading Reform Foundation conference in March this year, however, I did make the point that there are so few reputable Systematic Synthetic Phonics programmes in England that it would be possible to call upon the expertise of all the phonics programmes' authors but I'm not aware that all the authors are invited to share their findings, knowledge and expertise - and guidance about the nuances of their own particular programme.

The consequence of this is that inspectors and advisors, arguably, cannot recognise whether schools are anywhere close to delivering the various programmes' content according to the programmes' guidance and training. This is not a small issue because the guidance is as important as the body of work of the programmes themselves.

Take, for example, the issue of 'organisation' where it appears to have become the in-thing to provide phonics lessons in homogenous grouping whereas only one programme's author recommends this type of organisation.

Another issue is typical duration of phonics lessons which tends to be '20 minutes'. This has been hugely influenced by one particular programme's guidance - which is not the same as other programmes' guidance.

The organisations I believe would benefit from this specific insight include the universities for teacher-training, Ofsted and the DfE - and, of course, the schools themselves.

It would be interesting, indeed important, to find out whether this dissemination of 'good phonics practice' amounts to being programme-specific or practice-specific.

Either way, there are inherent dangers in this.

I myself have experience of being mid-consultancy when senior management are forced to change to another programme according to the preference of an individual brought in to oversee the school.

When schools have invested money (public money) in a reputable phonics programme and they are happy with that programme and being trained and guided on that programme, I personally don't think it's acceptable for an individual to come in and enforce change without full rationalisation - that is, by writing a report which evaluates the original selected programme and compares it with the proposed programme to show the change is, in effect, a genuine improvement - and not a whim.

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Re: The latest government-funded phonics project in England:

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:34 am

It is possible, however, to observe schools' practices in a generic manner - to evaluate what teaching and learning is taking place and why this might have shortcomings.

Sadly, I observe teachers providing phonics lessons which can look remarkably similar school to school but which aren't effective for all children by any means - and for a number of reasons.

Lack of consistency, continuity and progression is commonplace - but schools often recognise this which is when they might call upon someone to advise them.

Lack of a core 'body of work' is another common issue - where teachers dot about with different 'fun games and activities' but this does not amount to a 'core' programme and progression - and this is often not content-rich enough. This can be identified by tracking what any individual child receives by way of 'teaching' and 'practising' per lesson - and this is often virtually 'nothing' of any consequence. Imagine this state of affairs lesson after lesson.

The notion of the 'Teaching and Learning Cycle' is a good practice to have been embedded in recent years, but this has to be delivered with content-rich, cumulative materials and include a substantial 'apply and extend' element - but this is often not the case. The 'apply and extend' either doesn't exist or it is so minimal as to be meaningless.

In other words, it is possible for the teaching profession to analyse their phonics provision through generic understanding - but I'm not at all convinced that the teaching profession, nor indeed the teacher-training profession, generally understands the minutiae of what to look for regarding content, practice, differentiation, progression - that is, the fit-for-purposeness of every aspect of phonics provision.

Having observed a number of schools in different contexts using different programmes or part-programmes, I was able to identify certain 'patterns' of provision and came up with a graphic to illustrate this.

I believe this graphic is a good starting point for schools to reflect on their provision in broad terms - and some schools have already used this and can identify the quadrant that most fits their own provision:

The Simple View of Schools' Phonics Provision:

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Sim ... chools.pdf

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Re: The latest government-funded phonics project in England:

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:39 am

There are other evaluative models I have thought about and provided over the years to support evaluation and auditing of phonics provision which are more or less generic - but of course specific programmes will have their own material or their own way of evaluating practice according to the design of those programmes. So, the documents below are looking at phonics from the schools' perspective - not from any particular programme's design - and of course it is inevitable that even my generic material reflects my own programmes' designs so please allow for this. Nevertheless, these might be useful to some schools:

Reflecting on the 'Teaching and Learning Cycle':

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Ref ... 0Cycle.pdf

The three core phonics skills and their sub-skills - this diagram can be used for professional knowledge, evaluating the balance of planning and provision, and identifying special needs of individuals:

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Tri ... skills.pdf

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Re: The latest government-funded phonics project in England:

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:47 am

With regard to evaluating and comparing, I present this document below as an 'audit' or 'checklist' as it broadly incorporates the general range of features, practice and issues I would look at during school observations. Whereas part of the document gives examples of specific programmes' resources to exemplify the various elements of the 'Teaching and Learning Cycle', I think this is a valid way of accounting for content and practice of any programmes, practices and general phonics provision:

Model of an 'audit' or 'checklist':


http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Aud ... ewhite.pdf

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Re: The latest government-funded phonics project in England:

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:18 pm

Thanks to Geraldine for flagging up this information about the Government's phonics initiative via Twitter:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new- ... illiteracy
The schools leading the phonics partnerships are:

Trenance Learning Academy, Newquay, Cornwall
St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School, Ilford, Essex
Bishopton Redmarshall Church of England Primary School, Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham
Witham St Hughes Academy, Lincolnshire
Golden Valley Primary School, Nailsea, North Somerset
Mangotsfield Church of England, Bristol
St George’s Church of England Primary, Wandsworth
Hawksmoor Primary, Greenwich

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Re: The latest government-funded phonics project in England:

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Wed Jul 15, 2015 11:17 pm

Here is another article featuring one of the 'phonics schools' in the latest Government phonics initiative:

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/1 ... ment_cash/


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Re: The latest government-funded phonics project in England:

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Jul 17, 2015 11:29 am

See this piece in 'Schools Week' as it reveals the lack of professional knowledge and understanding of some (possibly many) primary headteachers in our country.

I've written a reader's comment but this is 'awaiting moderation' so may not appear for a while:

http://schoolsweek.co.uk/heads-question ... ment-63038
“For some children phonics is not quite the right approach. Often children who are dyslexic find phonics difficult, so we find we have to offer a variety of approaches.”

Given the focus on phonics since the introduction of annual phonics check three years ago, Ms Knapp questions the need for more money to embed the practice in all schools.

“For me, rather than focusing solely on phonics it would make more sense to invest money in how children learn to read effectively and become literate.

“For £10,000 you could invest in some good research into what makes a difference and what doesn’t with children who aren’t responding to phonics.”

The president of the National Association of Head Teachers, Tony Draper (pictured top), who is head of Water Hall Primary School in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, backed her view: “She is spot on the mark. Phonics is a very valuable tool – but it is not the only tool. I believe the phonics screening check (PSC) has served its purpose.

“They should be putting more effort into learning more about the outcomes of other methods of teaching reading, so that all children have access to varied approaches to learning how to read. One size does not fit all.”
This is my comment:
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Debbie Hepplewhite

I think it is positively scary and dismaying that we still have primary headteachers who believe there is an alternative method to phonics provision for teaching dyslexic children and who still call upon the expression ‘One size does not fit all’ – and who still think we need ‘research’ regarding the efficacy of what to teach to raise levels of literacy. No-one suggests that all the children are the same but there is only ‘one’ alphabetic code to be taught to all of them regardless of the children’s individual differences.

The headteachers’ comments suggest a real lack of professional knowledge and understanding about the international body of research regarding raising levels of literacy in the English language.

I would highly recommend that these headteachers visit the website of the ‘International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction’ at http://www.iferi.org and aim to support them in raising their levels of professional expertise.

There is only one English alphabetic code that is the basis of our writing system and it is the most complex alphabetic code in the world. Teachers need to raise their levels of phonics expertise – not look for different methods. Children with dyslexic tendencies need the highest quality phonics teaching and learning opportunities – not a move away from phonics.

It is also extraordinary that anyone could think that children enabled to decode more efficiently are disadvantaged. Since Sir Jim Rose recommended the Simple View of Reading in 2006, the teaching profession should be able to understand the different processes involved for technical word decoding/recognition and language comprehension. There is a correlation between children who can decode words better being more likely to access text reading accurately – but their language comprehension (spoken language) is the other vital ingredient.

The NFER phonics reports make it clear that many teachers still use multi-cueing reading strategies in their practice – and that suggests they are unaware of how research shows us these can be damaging for children’s reading habits as a reliance on guessing words from various cues is not helpful for long-term reading. Again this is a matter of professional understanding (or lack thereof).

Nick Gibb is entirely correct to continue pursuing an emphasis on quality phonics provision and this pursuance is based on both research and leading-edge phonics practices in our schools.

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Re: The latest government-funded phonics project in England:

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Jul 17, 2015 6:13 pm

I'm cross-linking this thread with one I started on the IFERI forum here:


http://www.iferi.org/iferi_forum/viewto ... p=500#p500

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