Joined: 08 Oct 2007
|Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:49 am Post subject: UK TES: Satisfy in phonics training or face Ofsted
|Poor feedback will trigger ‘focused’ inspection of PGCE courses
According to coalition policy, phonics is the undisputed champion of methods used to teach children to read, and schools have been told in no uncertain terms that they must embrace it with gusto.
Now those training the next generation of teachers will face strict penalties if they do not make sure that their students can properly use the teaching method. From this September, Ofsted will send emergency inspectors to courses where trainees complain about their phonics training. Any “significant dissatisfaction” will trigger a visit from the inspectorate.
It is a sign of the importance the government has placed on teachers being able to use phonics effectively - no other problems with training spark urgent intervention from Ofsted.
This is an interesting development to sharpen the minds of those lecturers in universities who seem reluctant to embrace training in synthetic phonics despite the evidence-base for the effectiveness of synthetic phonics programmes - not just the research but the actual leading-edge classroom practice.
It is worthy of note, however, that only a few universities have contacted me re speaking, or associating, with them about the underpinning knowledge and rationale of my work and which is built into the two programmes Phonics International and Oxford Reading Tree Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters. I don't know how other known phonics authors have fared in terms of liaison with universities.
I am not aware of lecturers (or Ofsted inspectors) attending any of my training events/talks with a view to being informed for their student courses (or informing the Ofsted inspectorate).
You could ask, "Well, why should they?"
There are now just a few named synthetic phonics programmes which have been included in the ESPO catalogue elligible for government 'match funding' of up to £3,000 in England. They have passed the government's 'core criteria'. The 'core criteria' is based on a wealth of varied evidence.
The number of these programmes is not unweildy and therefore it makes sense for universities providing courses in reading instruction to find out more about these programmes and their training contents/emphasis.
Even if you put the actual 'programmes' to one side, surely it is worthy of note what the associated 'experts/authors' of the programmes have found to be the most effective teaching methods, materials and class management?
This, I suggest, might be of mutual benefit to the teaching-training profession and the teaching profession as a whole.
One of the biggest factors that I feel has been missing from the teaching profession is the ability to 'evaluate' and 'compare' between the many initiatives and materials foisted onto the teaching profession over the years.
Some have been great, others less so, and some (arguably) detrimental - or on a practical level - undoable!
Ultimately, teachers must be evaluators and make decisions based on their professional evaluations, the research and their experience.
I have had a positive experience of liaison with personnel from the University of Cumbria. Here note-worthy efforts have been made in terms of lecturers becoming very knowledgeable about the contents and practices associated with the various leading synthetic phonics programmes - and much effort is made to liaise with local schools and their practices.
Last year, Ruth Hamilton-Parker from the University of Cumbria was a keynote speaker at the UK Reading Reform Foundation conference and, in my opinion, she stole the show as she outlined in detail how they prepare and train student-teachers in the synthetic phonics teaching principles. If only all universities were so thorough and determined to do justice to the training.
I have been invited to speak at the University of Cumbria's two campuses (Carlisle and Lancaster) for two years - and I am delighted to say that a copy of an Alphabetic Code Chart is included in the literature for their reading course! (My life's work is devoted to spreading the notion of an Alphabetic Code Chart in every classroom - and I suggest that every student-teacher needs to understand about their potential role!)
I have been invited to speak and provide workshops at Northampton University on June 13th 2012 which I greatly look forward to (along with Michaela Morgan - author and poet). I really appreciate such invitations.
Come on universities - spread your net to embrace the trainers and authors in the field of synthetic phonics!
We have to bear in mind, however, that the previous government published 'Letters and Sounds' which still no doubt dominates the course contents of the universities as it is the 'official' document.
But who has evaluated and compared 'Letters and Sounds'? It has been put forward as a 'programme' but in my opinion it is not a programme - only 'guidance' - showing that the scenario is not at all clear cut!