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Debbie's articles in SEN Magazine: May 2014, July 2015

 
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debbie



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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 6:26 pm    Post subject: Debbie's articles in SEN Magazine: May 2014, July 2015 Reply with quote

Thanks to SEN Magazine for publishing my article 'Where next for phonics?' (23rd May 2014) which is focused on findings from three significant reports published in England:


https://www.senmagazine.co.uk/articles/articles/senarticles/where-next-for-phonics

Quote:
Debbie Hepplewhite looks at the progress, practice and problems of synthetic phonics teaching in schools

Three different, but inter-related, reports on synthetic phonics were published in May 2014. All three reports are interesting and informative but, in some ways, they leave us with more questions than answers. They certainly raise serious questions regarding early literacy provision for children generally and for widely recognised vulnerable groups:

*do teachers embrace in full the systematic synthetic phonics teaching principles described in government guidance and in the core phonics programmes that they purport to follow?

*what does the widespread objection to the 40-word Year 1 phonics screening check actually reflect?

*what approach and programmes really serve children best, particularly those who are slower to learn or with special needs?


I have commented upon important links between these three reports which might not be noticed or understood well enough if people do not consider the information contained in the reports collectively.

This is an important commentary for teachers, parents and politicians!

These are the three reports concerned:

References

Walker M., Bartlett S., Betts, H., Sainsbury M., Worth, J., – National Foundation for Educational Research (2014): Phonics screening check evaluation, online at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/phonics-screening-check-evaluation [accessed 19/05/14], Department for Education.

Grant, M. (2014) Longitudinal Study from Reception to Year 2 (2010-2013) and Summary of an earlier Longitudinal Study from Reception to Year 6 (1997-2004), online at http://www.rrf.org.uk/pdf/Grant%20Follow-Up%20Studies%20-%20May%202014.pdf [accessed 19/05/14].

Duff, F.J., Mengoni, S.E., Bailey, A.M., Snowling, M.J. (2014), Validity and sensitivity of the phonics screening check: implications for practice, in Carroll J. (ed.), Journal of Research in Reading, online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9817.12029/full [accessed 19/05/14], UKLA.
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Last edited by debbie on Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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debbie



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Charity coalition secures cross party commitment to tackle the UK literacy crisis':


http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/news/6216_charity_coalition_secures_cross_party_commitment_to_tackle_the_uk_s_literacy_crisis

Please read this and notice that there is no mention, nor analysis, that England's teachers to date do not share professional knowledge, understanding or expertise regarding the research and leading-edge practice for reading instruction - and that includes both for beginners and special needs.

Teachers in England either do not know of, or do not adhere to, the official guidance of the Government according to the 'core criteria' for evaluating their core systematic synthetic phonics programmes nor do they adhere to the avoidance of multi-cueing reading strategies when these amount to guessing.

We hear from parents who are aware of and dismayed by the 'mixed methods' reading instruction for their children - but when they try to address this in their children's schools, they are met with hostility and resistance to discuss the issues properly.

So, how can anyone hold to account the teachers and their practices in schools when these are neither in line with official guidance which, currently, is based on the research on reading instruction to date?
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debbie



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many years ago, Keith E. Stanovich wrote about '...Research I have done that not everyone likes' - see the second section of extracts here in my old piece for the Reading Reform Foundation newsletter - I wrote this as long ago as 2003 but the research findings that Stanovich refers to goes as far back as the 1970s and 1980s:

http://www.rrf.org.uk/archive.php?n_ID=99&n_issueNumber=50

Stanovich wrote:

Quote:
Research I have done that not everyone likes

One of the first research problems in reading that I investigated was the role of context in word recognition. At the time I began these investigations with my colleague Richard West (in the early 1970s), several popular theories posited that the ability to use contextual information to predict upcoming words was an important factor in explaining individual differences in reading ability. Fluent readers were said to have attained their skill because of heavy reliance on context in identifying words. Reading difficulties were thought to arise because some readers could not, or would not, use context to predict upcoming words.

To our surprise at the time (West and I had started these investigations thinking that the context view was correct), our initial investigations of this problem revealed the opposite: It was the less-skilled readers who were more dependent upon context for word recognition (Stanovich, West, & Freeman, 1981; West & Stanovich, 1978). The reason for this finding eventually became apparent: The word recognition processes of the skilled reader were so rapid and automatic that they did not need to rely on contextual information.

Over 10 years later [Debbie: now over 30 years], this finding is one of the most consistent and well replicated in all of reading research. It has been found with all types of readers, in all types of texts, and in a variety of different paradigms (e.g., Bruck, 1988; Leu, DeGroff, & Simons, 1986; Nicholson, 1991; Nicholson, Lillas, & Rzoka, 1988). Reviews of the dozens of different studies that converge on this conclusion are contained in Perfetti (1985), Rayner and Pollatsek (1989), and Stanovich (1980, 1984, 1986, 1991).

Perhaps understandably, at the time our initial findings were published they were not warmly received by researchers invested in the context-use theory that the results falsified. Today, however, the implications of these results have been incorporated into all major scientific models of reading process (e.g., Just and Carpenter, 1987; Rayner & Pollatsek, 1989). Scientifically, the results are now uncontroversial. However, they are still not welcomed by some reading educators who would perpetuate the mistaken view that an emphasis on contextual prediction is the way to good reading.

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debbie



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's another blast from the past just to further demonstrate that for years there have been researchers and others who have done their utmost to draw attention to the need for explicit systematic phonics teaching.

The issue in England remains, however, shown by parents expressing their alarm by multi-cueing practices in their children's schools, shown by official surveys such as the NFER survey commissioned by the Department for Education - and surveys of the teaching profession conducted by groups such as some of the teachers' unions and the United Kingdom Literacy Association - that the teaching profession in England - in broad terms - even whilst now introducing explicit phonics teaching into their practice to a greater or lesser extent still largely believe in, or promote, the multi-cueing reading strategies more associated with 'mixed methods' or 'whole language':

Quote:
How Psychological Science Informs the Teaching of Reading

Keith Rayner, Barbara R. Foorman, Charles A. Perfetti,
Psychological Science in the Public Interest,
Vol. 2, No. 2, November 2001

The greatest continuing problem of the public [state – Ed.] schools is their failure to teach many children how to read.

Most of the academic and behavioural problems had by children in the course of their school careers stem from poor reading. Children who start as poor readers tend to fall further behind their peers every year, not grow out of it.


http://www.rrf.org.uk/archive.php?n_ID=100&n_issueNumber=50

Quote:
How could schools not notice that their methods weren’t working?

Fortunately, many children come to school with literacy skills acquired at home. With them, any teaching method seems to work. Children who lack such advantages do less well but their failure is easily blamed on their parents and backgrounds. So instead of recognizing the problem, schools argued that their methods worked for many students and for those who failed, better pre-school enrichment was needed.

A larger impediment was at work too: defective teacher training. Virtually every teacher and administrator trained in a school of education has been taught to idealize naturalistic forms of teaching and to frown on their opposite regardless of learning outcomes. Reading instruction that teaches discrete skills in an orderly sequence - i.e. uses phonics - was, therefore, considered substandard despite its superior results.

Whole language, therefore, was very attractive to educators despite its ineffectiveness with children who need the most help in learning to read. It was naturalistic and unstructured, and reading experts in the schools of education assured that it was a “best practice.” That it was ineffective with disadvantaged students was said to be the result of insufficient time and attention to reading, not ineffective teaching.

Whole-word and whole-language reading methods have dominated the schools of education because education professors have historically considered it more important for students to be exposed to preferred forms of teaching than it is for them to gain specific knowledge and skills. In their view, reading instruction using explicit, systematic phonics may be effective but it is “unnatural” and therefore entails the risk of detrimental side effects. That the use of ineffective reading instruction exposes the child to the risk of a far greater handicap than any side effects imagined by phonics opponents is largely ignored.

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debbie



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is pertinent to link here to another thread I have developed entitled:

Will the multi-cueing reading strategies go away?


http://www.phonicsinternational.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=520

I have attempted to demonstrate that here in England, the multi-cueing reading strategies in many schools look to be alive and kicking - and that there is no mention of this state of affairs in current media pieces about multiple agencies coming together, and political cross-party agreement, for addressing weak literacy in the UK.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the latest from the National Literacy Trust but I have pulled out an extract where phonics is mentioned to comment on its lack of analysis:

Vision for Literacy 2025


http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/assets/0002/3984/Vision_for_Literacy_2025.pdf

In this pamphlet it states on page 6:

Quote:
The strong push on phonics in schools has increased the level of decoding skills amongst children in the first two years of school.6 However, children are failing to gain the equivalent of level 4b in reading at the age of 11 predominantly because of poor comprehension skills. This highlights the importance of spoken language in relation to literacy. Government must signal that it takes this challenge seriously.


I have shown in this thread that teachers do not share a common understanding of teaching systematic synthetic phonics and the need to avoid multi-cueing guessing strategies which are not helpful to children learning to read as they detract from phonics and bring about bad reading habits. I have shown that the need to avoid multi-cueing guessing strategies has been identified in research particularly in the 1980s.

I have shown in this thread that some parents are very concerned about the prevalence of multi-cueing reading strategies in at least some schools (and the NFER May 2014 survey indicates that multi-cueing reading strategies could be very common indeed).

What I have yet to address in this thread is a misconception that phonics teaching/provision is the domain of the first two years of formal planned reading instruction - typically Reception and Year One in England (4 to 6 year olds).

Teaching of the English alphabetic code and phonics skills for reading and spelling need to be sustained and need to be understood as underpinning lifelong alphabetic code knowledge and skills for reading and spelling new, longer and more challenging words. In other words, phonics is not only the domain of infant teaching - but all teaching, and supporting of reading and writing as required - for the longhaul.

This would involve the training of the WHOLE teaching profession including teachers of secondary-aged pupils.

We have a long way to go in this regard.

Whilst it would be invaluable to improve the spoken language skills of all children, and to increase the amount of exposure and reading of literature of all children of all ages, all of this is underpinned by comprehensive phonics knowledge and skills.

The pamphlet I have flagged up in this post puts a lot of emphasis on parents and society - but no real emphasis on developing teacher-training for phonics - which, in effect, is ensuring that teacher-training is thoroughly informed by the research on reading instruction.

The authors seem to assume that where phonics is concerned it's already 'job done'.

Wrong.



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debbie



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There have been numerous threads on the Reading Reform Foundation message forum over the years started by parents who are concerned about the type of teaching (or lack of) their children were receiving at school - parents who have taken the trouble to become informed about the research and leading-edge practice for reading instruction.

This is just one thread - an update from previous experiences and concern expressed by some parents:

http://rrf.org.uk/messageforum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6056

This demonstrates the difficulty, arguably the impossibility, of holding schools to account for the methods used (methods not in line with the research or current official guidance which is based on research) - and this demonstrates the concern some parents express for the experiences of their children.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to editor, Peter Sutcliffe, for inviting me to write another article for SEN Magazine for the July-August 2015, edition 77:

http://www.senmagazine.co.uk/articles/1462-phonics-politics-and-practice

Quote:
Phonics: politics and practice

Official guidance may have caused more problems for teaching reading than it’s solved, writes Debbie Hepplewhite

It is time to take stock of how we teach reading in England. A significant aspect of this is to understand what systematic synthetic phonics provision looks like in different schools. To date, not all schools apply the systematic synthetic phonics teaching principles in full, which is very worrying. Many, perhaps most, schools continue with multi-cueing reading strategies, amounting to teaching children to guess some words routinely in place of decoding them. Children will also invariably default to guessing words when asked to read books independently which include words with alphabetic code beyond their code knowledge.

The fact that England’s teachers do not share a common professional understanding of the research on reading and reading instruction, or might not apply the systematic synthetic phonics teaching principles in full, is clearly evidenced in official Department for Education (DfE) and Ofsted reports. This means that children’s experiences of reading instruction in their schools is still based on chance and not necessarily informed well enough by science and leading-edge practice. Let’s look at some evidence.


Please read the evidence I bring to the table this time!

http://www.senmagazine.co.uk/
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Last edited by debbie on Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2015 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've now cross-referenced this thread via the 'International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction' here:

http://www.iferi.org/iferi_forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=439
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