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Advice needed on which training programme to take.

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2004 4:28 pm
by nelly
I have developed a particular interest in teaching reading and writing. I want to take a qualification but am unsure which route to take. Would it be better to take a cert/diploma/degree course, or a short professional development course. If my aim is to teach children (and/or adults) with reading difficulties would I be better looking at courses accredited by the Dyslexia Institute?

After reading Diane McGuinness book, and the reports by Greg Brooks etc. I can't hep but feel that phonics training is the key, however, knowing little about teaching people with Dyslexia I feel as though there is a big void of information that I am lacking.

On searching the web for courses, I came across masses and masses of information about test papers for people with reading/writing difficulties. I was surprised to even find that some of these were for children as young as 3! This lead me to believe that there must be more to the psychology of reading/writing than just phonics. Therefore, unsure of the best type of training to undertake.

Hope this make sense to anyone out there willing to give advice.

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2004 10:46 pm
by Quipg.
Nelly -this is a quick reply, and instant thoughts on the subject.
If you have a degree, then I would think it worth getting a PGCE certificate as, otherwise it's difficult to get a job in a school and if you do get one, you are likely to be paid at rate of T.A.
The Dyslexia Institute will advise you, or the Helen Arkell Trust or the Hornsby Institute and if you have a certificate from one of these institutes it could certainly be easier to get a job in a private school BUT shortly before completion of stimulating one year part-time course at one of the above a student on same course commented to me that we hadn't been taught how to teach children to read - it tends to be a long and tortuous road remediating through any of these Orton-Gillingham methods.
After reading Diane McGuinnesses book I changed the way I taught, adopted synthetic phonics and it has made a huge difference.
If John Walker who is trialling a new programme reads this message he may have something to add and also there will shortly be a programme for trainers in West Midlands .
You may also like to contact your County's Ed Psy to see what he/she advises - but unfortunately the advice is very variable.
It does take time to get established as it's very much a word of month process and if you get the phonics element right it can be over in 2\3 months- leaving new pupils to find. Some people combine with Kumon maths to broaden the range of opportunities. Sorry for rush and hope you get more comprehensive advice than this. Best of luck. g.

Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2004 9:39 pm
by nelly
Quipg, thanks for the reply. Sorry, I didn't say in my message, I already have a PGCE and teach in reception, I'm in my second year of teaching. I read Diane McGuiness book and became totally sold on phonics, and have read as much as I can since then. I want to specialise in teaching children (or adults) who have fallen through the net (so to speak) but don't know which route to take. I obviously need more experience, but in the meantime I wanted to take a course that would not only give me more information/training but also give me some credability.

As there is so much conflicting advice around, I thought I would ask the experts on this site for help.

I am quite new to all this and haven't heared of the Helen Arkell Trust or the Hornsby Institute, so will look them up on the web. I also haven't heard of Orton-Gillingham methods - sorry for my ignorance.

Basically, I don't want to take a course which I think is good to find out I should have done something different.

Please help!

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 8:33 am
by Quipg.
Nelly - it may be a good idea to see what sort of training the SENCOs etc have received in large primary schools in your area, in order to secure your place within state system (or in the private system, for that matter) - probably an RSA course - but Dyslexia Institute, Hornsby or Helen Arkell could give you the information you need.
But,after that, you will also need a short synthetic phonics training - if you let me know which part of country you're in I'll try and put you in touch with trainer (and it's worth it!). best wishes.g

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 8:11 pm
by nelly
Thanks Quipg, I'm in Manchester

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 9:53 pm
by john walker
Dear Nelly,
As luck would have it, I was following your question and the advice given you by 'Quipg'. And, in fact, apart from the other sound advice, Qipg is correct in saying that I, along with David Philpot, an educational psychologist working with the Wigan authority, and Susan Case, my training colleague, have been developing a new programme of linguistic phonics, called Sounds-Write. We have several courses coming up over the next term in the Manchester (Salford to be exact) area. If you would like more details, or more advice on training to become teacher, please give me a ring. I can be contacted on 01280-816036.
Best wishes,
John Walker
PS Another good read is Bonnie Macmillan's book Why Schoolchildren Can't Read.

Dyslexia training courses.

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2004 5:03 pm
by Susan Godsland
If, as you say in your post of January 4th, that these various dyslexia courses don't in the end actually show how to teach children to read in the quickest, easiest and most effective way, then surely they we shouldn't endorse them? :?

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2004 10:05 pm
by quipg.
Susan - I don't endose O-G. I've had a lot of children to remediate who have, either privately, or at school been given extra tuition with one of these Orton-Gillingham institutes. I don't like criticising them as a lot of people have been helped (usually over a long period of time) by one of them and in their time they were in the vanguard of raising people's awareness of dyslexia. I learned a great deal in my year's part-time course except how to teach children to read; things are changing and the latest edition of the excellent the Hornsby based WORD SHARK CD now has a synthetic phonics element (don't take this as an endorsement as have only seen bits of the programme).

I'll try and have a good look at your wonderful web-site, dyslexics. org. over the week-end and will get back to you re endorsement. Someone who trained at the Hornsby, as I did, and then did same synthetic phonics training, was given Hornsby ed.psys report on one of her pupils by his parents - it contained the remark that she had never seen such a rapid improvement (after, I think 12 hours tuition - though I'll have to check with colleague on this). Beve Hornsby is open to any improvements, new ways of thinking, and is generous with promoting other people's approach if it is effective- as is Sue Lloyd who is incredibly generous with other synthetic phonics developers - but the Orton-Gillingham teaching has more or less stayed the same for 30 years and there is a huge network of everything from BDA, to RSA exams, to correspondence courses and degree courses - and this is tragic really. g.

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2004 10:09 pm
by quipg.
Nelly - these are excellent trainers - JW was on same course originally ...

Posted: Sat Jan 10, 2004 1:16 am
by Guest

Here are a couple of yahoo message boards which frequently discuss the many different programmes out there. It can sometimes be difficult to know which one to choose.
But I agree with quip's remarks.
There are spin-offs now of PG, which go further than decoding and include fluency and comprehension elements.
One point I took to heart from the very good Don Potter's website (you will find links to this from Susan Godsland's links on the home page of the RRF) was to find a programme you like, stick with it until you can do it inside out. I have found I am still learning with the programme I have decided to stick with, for now (** by the way)

Posted: Sat Jan 10, 2004 1:06 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
One of my many 'hats' is that I am an accredited Jolly Phonics presenter, but I made it clear to the Jolly Phonics managers from the outset that I am really a 'synthetic phonics' presenter. To date I have received no money from any source for my phonics presenting so that I have felt totally free to say exactly what I want without accusations of promoting something with bias for financial gain).

I always have a broad range of teaching resources to show and discuss at any presentations I deliver which are not only Jolly Phonics materials. These include other commercial resources and materials, that I or others have made, to support our teaching in a practical way.

This is because I am doing what I do to promote the research-based teaching principles of the Synthetic Phonics approach and not a particular company per se.

I wish that the government had taken such an approach with their training instead of trying to write their own programmes. The National Literacy Strategy people have put themselves on no better level than any commercial company by writing their own materials and then promoting them rigorously with great clout (coupled with schools' fears of Ofsted inspection) through the conduit of the Local Education Authorities. [Actuallly, synthetic phonics programmes are based on research or directly researched whereas the NLS programmes were not based on such research principles to my knowledge.]

To make matters worse, the programmes that the NLS team has produced have not been scientifically tested, nor stood the test of time, nor been transparently compared with alternate materials and approaches.

Ofsted reports on the effectiveness of the NLS but not on the state of national literacy, and Ofsted has arguably failed to be transparent about the reading/phonics debate. For example, how clear is it through Ofsted inspection reports on schools that the approach to teaching reading may be a synthetic phonics approach and not the mixed methods of the NLS (take the last inspection of St Michael's at Stoke Gifford where the excellent results at key stage 1 were attributed to "a structured reading approach" with no mention of the synthetic approach of Jolly Phonics and Sounds Discovery which the school had used - NOT the NLS mixed methods! Plus, the notable gains at the Osmani School were from using Jolly Phonics and not the NLS)?

The critics of the NLS approach to reading instruction have not had the clout nor the publicity nor the finances to draw attention to the research on reading or the debate.

Whereas there is much truth in what Don Potter says to find a phonics programme and stick to it so that you know it and deliver it well, I would suggest that one step further than this is to know the conclusions of reputable research on reading , and therefore to know what the TEACHING PRINCIPLES are. Stick to the TEACHING PRINCIPLES and you can use materials and programmes flexibly with knowledge, skill and understanding.

Posted: Sat Jan 10, 2004 1:19 pm
by nelly
Thanks for your replies.

JW - I will be in touch next week.

Quipg - your reply to Susan has confirmed my concerns about making the right (or wrong) decision on which course to take.

Guest - I've had a quick look at the sites - will look again when I have more time - thanks. I kind of agree with your comments about finding a programme that you like and sticking with it because it's important to 'like' the programme, but I want to make sure I find one that 'works'. I've read so much about this and that not working, and arguments for and against various methods. I want to make sure that I work from the roots of the tree to the branches, buds, and then the leaves, rather than starting with the leaves and finding that the roots don't grow! I don't know where that came from, or even if it makes sense.

Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2004 3:46 pm
by nelly
Debbie, thanks for replying, I think I must have been typing my reply when you posted your message. I feel as though you have given me sound advice of following TEACHING PRINCIPLES based on research. I'm still not sure what my next step forward will be, but I feel confident now in knowing that if I research well, then whichever resources I decide to use are just teaching tools. This has given me the confidence to continue with what I am doing and to make sure that I do it well with whatever I decide to use. At the moment I use Jolly Phonics.

Thanks again.

Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2004 6:01 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
Jolly Phonics is an excellent start for teachers and children and based firmly on the synthetic phonics teaching principles, you should make excellent gains with your children.

You may need to supplement Jolly Phonics with writing your own decodable text and making sure that you have decodable reading books for the children which match their knowledge and skills to date.

It is becoming well-documented that Jolly Phonics taught along with the guessing reading strategies (guessing from pictures, context and initial letter cues) will dilute and contradict the phonics approach and you will not get the best results.

Whilst teachers still try to follow the searchlight 'range of strategies' approach to reading text, it is clear that they may use Jolly Phonics but not by those TEACHING PRINCIPLES to which I have referred in my former message.

Good luck Nelly. It sounds to me you are well on the way to understanding the importance of applying research-based methods and materials - I think your children are very lucky.

Unfortunately, there are many teachers and children out there who are not so lucky. How many years before the whole teaching profession is properly informed.

Judging from my daughter's reading list (she is in her second year of teacher-training) and from our conversations about her training, the teacher training establishments seem to have a long way to go.

Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2004 10:23 pm
by nelly
Debbie - I'm unsure of what you mean by supplementing JP with 'my own decodable text'.

We use the ORT reading scheme and I'm unsure whether you would class this as decodable or not. If we do not have 'decodable' reading books, what would you suggest with regard to making the most out of what we have got?