It is currently Thu Nov 27, 2014 9:00 am
  

All times are UTC + 1 hour





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 159 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 11  Next
  Print view Previous topic | Next topic 
Author Message
 Post subject: Ed Ball's evasion of valid questions and observations:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 11:55 pm 
Offline
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Posts: 3422
Location: Berkshire
I wrote this email to Ed Balls recently:

Quote:
Dear Ed,

I wrote to you on 13th July 2007 raising the issues about growing discontent in the Early Years and worries about the promotion of your chosen intervention programme, Reading Recovery. Since that date, the government has made announcements that Reading Recovery is to be rolled out nationally under the ‘Every Child A Reader’ umbrella without apparently addressing several significant worries regarding the efficacy of the Reading Recovery methods and regarding the government promotion of a specific programme which is clearly not in line with the Rose recommendations. I have reason to believe that there is a growing number of people seriously questioning government actions and that there is a case for the government to respond to the questions which arise from the national promotion of an internationally discredited teaching method.

You went to some lengths to suggest to me in your response to my worries that those in charge of Reading Recovery are likely to pay regard to research on reading and to come in line with the recommendations of the Rose Report. Please see your comments below (in red) taken from your original email to me. To date, no evidence has been found or provided to reassure me, or others, that Reading Recovery has indeed been brought into line with the Rose recommendations or that there is any intention to change the philosophy of teaching reading from a whole language approach to a synthetic phonics approach. There is evidence, however, to indicate that Reading Recovery remains unchanged from the whole language programme that it has always been which promotes multi-cueing guessing strategies and the use of reading books which are beyond learners’ Alphabetic Code knowledge and blending skills – in direct contrast to the type of reading instruction now promoted by the government for early years teaching for four to seven year olds.

I find it extraordinary that the government would proactively promote an intervention programme which is in direct contrast to the type of synthetic phonics teaching which is reflected in the most recent government programme, ‘Letters and Sounds’.

You wrote to me the following: “We have chosen to roll out Every Child a Reader (ECAR), which incorporates the intervention programme Reading Recovery, for one simple reason - because it works.”

I suggest, however, that the government’s decision to roll-out an intervention programme which is internationally discredited is anything but simple and highly questionable: Here are the most obvious reasons as to why the government’s move is unaccountable:

1. Reading Recovery is a whole language programme which is in direct contrast to the recommendations of the Rose Report. In effect, the government has failed to apply its own recommended criteria for evaluating a reading instruction programme – and contradicted the guidance of its own programme ‘Letters and Sounds’.

2. The promotion of two opposing types of reading instruction will totally confuse both the teaching profession, the general public and the pupils and, at the very least, will undermine the potential effects of implementing the type of teaching described in ‘Letters and Sounds’. Teacher-training (in addition to classroom practice) will be totally skewed as a result of the promotion of both a synthetic phonics programme and a whole language programme for the early years. You have given the nation totally mixed messages which will serve no-one well.

3. Scrutiny of the Reading Recovery programme reveals it is indeed a whole language programme and yet the body of international research on reading instruction DISCREDITS whole language teaching – PARTICULARLY for struggling readers.

4. There is plenty of evidence readily available on the internet to illustrate the international concern about the efficacy of using the Reading Recovery programme. Reading Recovery IN PARTICULAR is highlighted over and again as being a cause for concern regarding both its methods and the lack of rigour and transparency in its reporting of results. It is very strange that the UK government would promote a specific NAMED programme in the first place – but PARTICULARLY a programme which is discredited throughout the international community without, at the very least, conducting rigorous research with properly controlled and comparison groups including modern synthetic phonics taught children. Why does the government pro-actively promote a programme which has not been compared properly with a synthetic phonics intervention programme? Would this happen in the world of medicine? Even if you believe that Reading Recovery ‘works’, do you really know how well this programme would stand up to the leading synthetic phonics programmes when compared transparently?

5. The government was sufficiently impressed with the expertise provided by the Reading Reform Foundation and the leading edge practice of various synthetic phonics programmes across the UK and the international research (including Johnston and Watson’s Clackmannanshire study) to; a) make the move of promoting the simple view of reading which is highly evidenced and to; b) write its own synthetic phonics programme for national use. Why would the government, in effect, imply, We acknowledge your expertise in teaching reading (and spelling) and we are listening to your worries about reading instruction methods to the extent that we are investigating them through a House of Commons inquiry and a national review under Jim Rose as to how best to teach reading. We acknowledge the conclusions of these inquiries to the extent of producing a government guidance manual which tries to emulate your programmes – but we do not acknowledge your expertise and we are not listening to your worries regarding intervention and the government promotion of the whole language Reading Recovery programme. In fact, we are not listening to the points you raise, we dismiss them, and we are too busy to meet with you to discuss your worries about what is best to address struggling readers’ needs. The question is, do we have expertise on teaching reading or not?

6. The Reading Recovery programme is an extremely expensive intervention programme. Whilst I am not endeavouring to ‘put a price’ on the importance of children learning to read well, nevertheless from an economic perspective, once again the government’s decision to promote Reading Recovery IN PARTICULAR has to be questioned. The contrast is VAST between what leading synthetic phonics programme designers consider is necessary to at least get parents and teachers aware of the main teaching principles concerned for them to implement synthetic phonics teaching – even for intervention. Jolly Phonics, for example, has often been used for intervention purposes for the cost of the main handbook ‘The Phonics Handbook’ which is around £20. All synthetic phonics programmes can be used for intervention purposes but implemented more intensively in small groups or one to one contexts. The Sound Reading System (SRS) provides special needs tuition for all ages and provides a week long training programme for around £500. It does take some time to gain greater understanding and proficiency to become the most effective teacher possible – but teaching assistants, parents and volunteers can become effective with good training and supportive resources which are much less expensive and convoluted than Reading Recovery training. So, not only is the Reading Recovery methodology highly questionable, the time-consuming and elaborate network of teacher-training is also questionable. SO MUCH MORE could be achieved if synthetic phonics interventions were SUPPORTED with the kind of government backing being given to the Reading Recovery organisation. Why does the Reading Recovery organisation merit special treatment?

And what cost to the learning where pupils themselves get mixed messages and a mixed methods start because they are encouraged to guess words from clues which contradict the very teaching which has now been endorsed in the mainstream classrooms?

The government’s concern about our weakest readers is laudable – it is the subsequent action of the government which beggars belief.

You wrote:

However even when we get there, and all children have access to quality first phonics teaching, we will still need early reading interventions in place for the minority of children for whom that is not enough to enable them to become skilled readers and writers. This is acknowledged in the Review itself - “while interventions for children with reading difficulties will always be necessary, the need for them is likely to be much reduced by quality first phonics teaching.” There is always going to be a minority for whom intervention is necessary and, in the case of early reading, the Review is clear that high quality phonic work should form a key feature of intervention provision.

We have chosen to roll out Every Child a Reader (ECAR), which incorporates the intervention programme Reading Recovery, for one simple reason - because it works. The success of ECAR and Reading Recovery is well evidenced. For example results from the first year of the ECAR pilot, involving some of the hardest to teach children in the most disadvantaged areas, showed that children made on average four times the normal rate of progress.

In terms of high quality phonic work, Reading Recovery has in recent years had a strong phonic component. ECAR promotes the importance of a high quality, consistently taught, explicitly secured approach to segmenting and blending, with a left to right approach to word analysis secured early. This is emphasised as every child’s entitlement during day to day teaching as well as during additional literacy intervention sessions.

We acknowledge that we need to ensure compatibility between the phonic teaching in additional intervention sessions and phonic teaching undertaken in the classroom. It is important to understand that Reading Recovery is not a static, fixed programme but one that will continue to evolve to take account of new research findings.


Why is the government apparently relying on the Reading Recovery programme to, “…continue to evolve to take account of new research findings…” when it has never done this to date despite decades of research showing whole language is damaging? Why is the government apparently relying on the Reading Recovery programme when there is such exciting potential for developing synthetic phonics teaching across our country? The government stands poised at an incredible historic moment, achieving the Rose Report – and then undermines the progress to date!

I request, once again, a meeting to discuss these issues and suggest that, at such a meeting, the Reading Reform Foundation committee members could be invited plus some leading experts on synthetic phonics teaching such as Rhona Johnston and Marlynne Grant.

We would all be very grateful for the opportunity to fully explain to you our range of work – and its potential - and which includes intensive teaching for the weakest readers; and why we continue to worry enormously for the welfare of children who receive mixed messages and mixed methods of learning to read.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Debbie

Debbie Hepplewhite


Last edited by Debbie Hepplewhite on Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:23 am, edited 5 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:01 am 
Offline
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Posts: 3422
Location: Berkshire
The response:

Quote:
Dear Ms Hepplewhite

Thank you for your email of 21 May, addressed to Ed Balls, highlighting your concerns about the use of Reading Recovery within the Every Child a Reader programme. I have been asked to reply on his behalf.

I note your further comments on this issue, but can add nothing to the response which Ed Balls gave you in August last year. I understand, too, that you have previously been in direct contact with Jean Gross, the former Director of Every Child a Reader, who has written extensively to you to allay your concerns about Reading Recovery. The Department's position has been clearly stated and I am unable to add anything further to this.

Yours sincerely

Francess Quinn
Public Communications Unit



So, no accountability there, then.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:46 am 
Offline
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:38 pm
Posts: 3005
Location: N.E England
Having been party to Jean Gross's responses I can state categorically that she said nothing whatsoever to 'allay' our fears; if anything, it intensified them.

I am astounded by the rudeness to which Debbie has been subjected by Ed Balls and his underlings.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:48 am 
Offline
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Posts: 3422
Location: Berkshire
My latest reply:

Quote:
Dear Francess,

Thank you for your response on behalf of Ed Balls to my email of 21 May.

I’m afraid that further comments are very much required to the several serious questions that have been raised about the government’s promotion of the Reading Recovery programme.

Jean Gross’s comments were unable to allay the concerns of the Reading Reform Foundation besides which government actions are not Jean Gross’s responsibility – they are the government’s.

As I have had no proper response to the questions I have raised about this issue, I have now posted these questions and Ed Balls' responses in the public domain.

When government actions are clearly unchallengeable, then the fundamental notion of accountability is worthless.

Yours sincerely,

Debbie Hepplewhite


Last edited by Debbie Hepplewhite on Sat Jun 28, 2008 1:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:58 am 
Offline
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Posts: 3422
Location: Berkshire
Below is a statement that Ed Balls himself takes from the Rose Report. I find it extraordinary that Balls points out a section which makes clear the need for 'high quality phonic work' for intervention. Evaluation provides us with evidence, however, that Reading Recovery does not include high quality phonic work for teaching reading - far from it!

Quote:
This is acknowledged in the Review itself - “while interventions for children with reading difficulties will always be necessary, the need for them is likely to be much reduced by quality first phonics teaching.” There is always going to be a minority for whom intervention is necessary and, in the case of early reading, the Review is clear that high quality phonic work should form a key feature of intervention provision.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 10:26 am 
Offline
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
Posts: 4876
Location: Exeter UK
With such all round contempt shown for the electorate, it's no wonder Labour came fifth in Friday's by-election.

Roll on the General Election when Balls gets kicked into the long grass!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 11:03 am 
Offline
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Posts: 3422
Location: Berkshire
Quote:
I am astounded by the rudeness to which Debbie has been subjected by Ed Balls and his underlings.


Their rudeness does not bother me a jot - and anyway, I am pretty irreverent in the way that I write my letters.

The point is that I am not responsible for illiteracy and semi-illiteracy in our nation but the government's national interference, wrong guidance and contradictory guidance now puts the responsibility firmly on politicians' shoulders.

Whatever people think of one's style of communication, the question is whether the points raised have validity or not.

Are the points that I have raised with Ed Balls and other members of this government valid - and does the government have a responsibility to address each of the points I have raised or not?

Is it reasonable for the government to listen to the advice of the Reading Reform Foundation as 'experts on teaching reading' and even go so far as to emulate our reading instruction programmes on the one hand - and yet refuse to engage with us, meet with us, or address our worries and the points we have raised on the other hand?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 7:22 pm 
Offline
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Posts: 3422
Location: Berkshire
I have received permission to copy and paste this email that I received in response to the communications above:

Quote:
Dear Debbie,
Although I do think that your email to Ed Balls is rather long I am sure you are right to put it in the public domain. If you can find somewhere to highlight the logic of the English alphabet code -or in simple terms to say that children just need to understand what it is that they are decoding to be able to access print - so much the better.

I have had two conversations recently with two very responsible Head teachers. Both these experienced women voiced doubts - quite spontaneously - about the directives coming down from the top. Both KNOW the directives are muddled - both are washing their hands of anything meted out by the government. They already know that these recommendations are flawed and muddled and untrustworthy. If I have spoken to two then there must be hundreds 'out there' that think the same - we are badly in need of a campaign to illustrate the barminess of this and discredit the appalling ignorance that is causing the problem. Of course the main problem is that Ed Balls himself has no understanding of the matter whatsoever. How can he ? He is a politician moving from one post to another. He can only act upon advice. The 'advice' is flawed. What continues to be desperately depressing is the effect that this continues to have on the nation's children and young people and in the end of the corroding of an educated and civilised society by increasing illiteracy and increasingly lowered standards.

One of the heads recommended that I read: Learning the Hard Way: a strategy for special educational needs by Lucy Wilkins put together by Centre Forum and Policy Exchange and findable on both their websites: www.centreforum.org and www.policyexchange.org.uk

Diane has read it too and despite the writer's intention being in the right place, found the usual flaws - a lack of understanding of the actual subject - i.e. the lumping of ALL SEN children together, not separating out the small minority of those with true learning difficulties from those that find reading difficult. Instead we (the UK) continue to have this vast illiterate population/SEN population - not mirrored anywhere else in Europe. As has been said before, you can NOT cross the Channel and 'catch' "dyslexia" but you CAN cross the Channel and be assaulted by inappropriate reading methods...amounting to child abuse....

Fiona


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:53 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun May 01, 2005 8:24 am
Posts: 1170
Location: Kent
Surely, it cannot be long before parents resort to litigation.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:25 pm 
Offline
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:38 pm
Posts: 3005
Location: N.E England
What legislation could parents use to sue under, Derrie? Human Rights?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:52 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Dec 26, 2006 7:57 am
Posts: 104
Location: Australia
Having had experience with RR over many years I must say that for the individual RR teacher it would be very hard to change their approach from Whole Language to SP. RR teachers are just so ingrained and loyal to the program they cannot consider another way of thinking. Nothing I said during training sessions made any difference, of course, except to confirm that I was speaking another language. Sadly, RR teachers believe that they are doing phonics during their lessons, but this is on an incidental nature, which may be pointed out, if a meaning prompt is not used to decipher the word first.

As part of every training session, we would watch 2 colleagues teach their children, so I witnessed many teachers at work. Even in the early days of my work as a RR teacher and with limited knowledge of SP anyway, I was always confused as to why we were to prompt from a meaning context or to look at the first letter of a word, when we were trying to make these kids independent. We had words to investigate, not find prompts that the children could not use when we weren't there!

I have spoken to colleagues who have since departed RR and returned to classroom teaching and still they believe that RR works. So changing the currently indoctrinated RR teachers, I feel, would be very difficult.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 10:32 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun May 01, 2005 8:24 am
Posts: 1170
Location: Kent
I'm not sure Maizie but I ensure the recommendations in my own reports reflect the scientific view to the teaching of reading (and spelling). (Not primarily because I fear litigation but because I expect for all children what I would expect for my own.)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:31 pm 
Offline
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Posts: 3422
Location: Berkshire
My email response to Michael Tyler. My comments are in red:




Quote:
Dear Michael,

Please note my comments in red below.

Thank you for the goodwill of your response,

Best wishes,

Debbie

Cc Jim Rose, Nick Gibb, Michael Gove

Public Domain


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: info@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk [mailto:info@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk]
Sent: 17 July 2008 08:54
To: debbie@syntheticphonics.com
Subject: Case Reference 2008/0055722

Dear Ms Hepplewhite,

Thank you for your e-mail to Francess Quinn of 28 June 2008, I am replying on behalf of the Department for Children Schools and Families.

Thank you.

I hope by reiterating the Department’s position on the Every Child a Reader and Reading Recovery programmes I can allay some of your concerns.

I’m afraid reiteration of the Department’s position does not allay my concerns and, sadly, your reply does not address all the issues I have raised in previous correspondence with Mr. Balls.

As you will well know the Rose Review recommended that all children should have access to high quality systematic phonics teaching, and that is precisely what we are ensuring through our changes to the Primary framework and through the new Early Years Foundation Stage.

I appreciate this good intention.

However, those children who struggle most with literacy learning need an individually tailored programme that has a strong evidence base of effectiveness with the very lowest achieving children, and enables them to catch them up completely with their peers within a short space of time.

It depends what you mean by ‘an individually tailored programme’. If this means an additional one to one approach which contradicts the basic principles of systematic synthetic phonics and which promotes the whole language ‘multi-cueing guessing strategies’, then this is not what the overall research shows us about reading instruction – not even for weaker learners. Indeed, the weaker learners ESPECIALLY need systematic synthetic phonics teaching.

Furthermore, it is my understanding that it is common practice for Reading Recovery intervention to take the bottom six children out of classes or key stage groups regardless of their individual needs or general standards. One class’s ‘bottom six’ will have an entirely different profile from another class’s ‘bottom six’. There is no justification to take the ‘bottom six’ groups of Year One classes and give them a whole language intervention.

This is the kind of evidence base that Reading Recovery has, and is one of the main reasons why we promote its use in schools.

Whilst UK reports produced by Reading Recovery personnel state results have been good, there is nevertheless a great deal of documented international concern about the efficacy of using the Reading Recovery programme. I have simply suggested that this body of evidence was surely sufficient to cause the UK government to be extra cautious.

Furthermore, it is complementary to whole-class systematic phonics teaching, not at odds with it. I should stress that all lessons which use Reading Recovery intervention involve the systematic teaching of phonics for reading and writing.

Sadly, it is here that you are mistaken. Reading Recovery is not at all complementary to the type of teaching recommended by Jim Rose for class teaching and for intervention. Reading Recovery is completely at odds with the guidance of the government’s own ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. Whilst there is some phonics teaching in Reading Recovery, this bears no resemblance to systematic synthetic phonics teaching and, in addition, Reading Recovery promotes the whole language multi-cueing guessing strategies’ in huge contrast to the advice in ‘Letters and Sounds’ and all the leading commercial synthetic phonics programmes. All anyone has to do to verify this, is to take a close look at the practice and content of the Reading Recovery programme, training material and videos of tutoring available to view on the internet.

We have seen from the schools involved in the ECaR pilot that they are successfully using both classroom systematic phonics teaching and Reading Recovery and other lighter touch interventions that form part of ECaR to meet the needs of all their children, so that every child becomes a reader.

May I suggest that whatever the results attained from a combination of whole class systematic phonics teaching combined with Reading Recovery intervention, that much higher results and much more secure reading and spelling skills for the long term would be attained from a consistent approach of synthetic phonics in the classroom and synthetic phonics for intervention.

There is a vast bank of material on the internet to describe the folly of whole language for first time or intervention teaching. Quite simply, whole language teaching – which is what Reading Recovery consists of - is not based on scientific evidence.

I hope this explanation of our position gives you more of an understanding of the reasons behind our literacy strategy and Ministers’ commitment to ensuring all children learn to read.

I am sure that Ministers are entirely committed to the aim of all children learning to read, but sadly they are not experienced in the teaching of children to read and spell and depend on being advised.

There should be some doubt, at least, in Ministers’ minds following the Reading Reform Foundation’s warnings about the promotion of the type of teaching methods enshrined in Reading Recovery and other similar intervention programmes.

It is mystifying that the Reading Reform Foundation’s, and others’, warnings should have informed the Rose Review and yet those same people’s warning are now apparently being disregarded.



Yours sincerely,

Michael Tyler
Raising School Standards
Michael.Tyler@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2008/0055722.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:35 pm 
Offline
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Posts: 3422
Location: Berkshire
I have included the email address and the case reference number in case anyone wishes to support what I have written in their own style.

Thank you!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 3:17 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2003 7:41 pm
Posts: 1859
Excellent response, Debbie.

Now we need to show why SP remedial help is:

logical

simple

around 80% cheaper than Reading Recovery

does not involve disruption of schools by removing "senior' teachers

provides children with the additional decoding practice they need to be able to access secondary curriculum


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 159 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 11  Next

All times are UTC + 1 hour


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  



Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
greenmiles v1.1 designed by CodeMiles Team -TemplatesDragon-.