Flying pigs

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Flying pigs

Post by Guest » Fri May 27, 2005 10:24 pm

From today's Evening Standard:

Kelly set to clash with teachers
By Dominic Hayes Education Correspondent, Evening Standard
27 May 2005
Schools are to be ordered to use a "back to basics" teaching method to tackle failing literacy levels.

The move is likely to put Education Secretary Ruth Kelly on a collision course with teachers.

It comes after figures show one in five 11-yearolds are unable to read at a high enough standard for their age. Ms Kelly is to tell teachers to use a system called "synthetic phonics" in which pupils learn the basics of word construction first - only after that are they taught more complex aspects such as grammar.

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It is a major climbdown for Ms Kelly, who is privately dismissive of the system and has said that initiatives including the national literacy hour are enough to tackle the problem. It is also likely to lead to a clash with teachers, many of whom do not back the system and want to stick to the methods they currently use, most of which were developed in the Sixties and Seventies. The implementation of synthetic phonics has seen startling improvements in reading abilities in Scotland.

Before the election, the Labour-dominated education select committee urged the Government to follow up the Scott i sh experiment with a full-scale national trial of synthetic phonics.

The MPs said in a report that the existing literacy strategy has an "unacceptably high" failure rate and needs fundamental reform.

They warned that some of the improvement in national primary English test results in recent years was false.

Because schools were " teaching to the test" to boost their results in order to move up national league tables, pupils were passing without gaining a sound grasp of what they are supposed to have learned, the committee concluded.

Reading has become increasingly politicised over the last 20 years as supporters of various teaching methods compete to have their ideas adopted.

The synthetic phonics lobby says it is a "fast and first" technique for teaching children how to match sounds with letters and then blend them to form words before they progress to whole texts.

Meanwhile, an intensive technique called "reading recovery" will be promoted as helping children who fall behind.

Ms Kelly will tell teachers they must focus their efforts on bringing the 20 per cent who are lagging behind up to the level expected of their age when they leave primary school.

Department for Education officials refused to comment on the details of the new package or confirm whether schools will receive extra cash for the literacy drive.

The National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers said ministers should not try to dictate how reading is taught in schools.


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