Prevention NOT Intervention
I think there will always be a small group of children who will need one-to-one tutoring - even with the best synthetic programmes, best training and best implementation; there are some children who have particular needs that cannot be met in a group - and not just SEN children.
We tutored some children with SEN at my old school forever until they could read well. We also tutored children with behaviour problems, long term absentees, new arrivals just to mention a few. These children were always given more of the same and not something different. No amount of group teaching helps a child once they fall behind their peers - though you can sometimes teach in pairs if they are at the same level.
If we want to be truly inclusive schools must plan for these children as a matter of course and not just hope for the best. Synthetic phonics is not a simple panacea - it takes determination to get every child reading. As soon as a child fails to learn the first letter on the first day - quick tutoring should take place.
It was not the intention of Letters and Sounds to suggest careful grouping, provide day-by-day lesson plans or to provide specific training for assistants and teachers. Although more children will hopefully learn, it will be more vulnerable to poor implementation than the commercial programmes that provide this.
I think it vital that as programme writers we start to put our attention to this vulnerable group. If we don't do this, children who fail on phonics will be given less phonics through expensive catch-up and recovery programmes and not more phonics.
Sorry to bang on. I do feel really strongly - if you hadn't noticed!
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