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2014 results & predictable criticism of Y1 Phonics Check

 
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debbie



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2014 7:30 am    Post subject: 2014 results & predictable criticism of Y1 Phonics Check Reply with quote

A rise in the Year One Phonics Screening Check results should be celebrated by everyone in the teaching profession and public domain, but it was predictable that the results would bring out the usual critics such as Christine Blower - a teachers' union leader - a figure who should be leading the way in phonics promotion and celebration of year-on-year rises in results - showing that more and more children are able to lift the words off the page.

Quote:
More children passing phonics test

26 September 2014 by Katy Morton

Department for Education (DfE) figures for 2014 show that 74 per cent of Year One pupils, 474,000 children, met the standard expected for their age, up from 69 per cent in 2013.

This is equivalent to 102,000 more children doing well, based on the 2014 cohort, says the DfE.

There was also a rise in the number of children who achieved full marks. This year 15 per cent of pupils scored 40 out of 40, compared to 11 per cent in 2013 and nine per cent in 2012.


Read Christine Blower's criticism and my 'readers' comments' response in 'Nursery World':

http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/nursery-world/news/1147066/children-passing-phonics-test

Quote:
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said, 'Teachers accept that phonics is one way to teach children to read but it is not the only one and does not suit all children. The amount of money being spent on solely on phonics materials is ridiculous particularly as the Year One Phonics Screening Check will tell teachers nothing they do not already know about the reading skills of the children in their class.

'This test is unnecessary and inappropriate for many children with special educational needs (SEN) and English as an additional language (EAL). It is vital that the methods we employ when we introduce young children of five and six years old to reading should bring understanding, reward and pleasure to them. Drilling children to pass a reading test will achieve the exact opposite.'


Here is my 'readers' comments' response:

Quote:
Sadly, Christine Blower is misguided in her attitude towards phonics teaching - it is fundamentally important. As a profession that is becoming increasingly aware of the contribution that research can make (for example, the extraordinary support and rapid rise in popularity of the researchEd organisation), there is no field where we have, at last, paid regard to research quite like the field of reading instruction. At long last, teachers are far more aware that each and every child must be equipped to lift the words off the page without resorting to lots of guessing - and that they must be professionally equipped to teach phonics. The Year One Phonics Screening Check has helped teachers to appreciate whether their teaching is effective enough in the bigger picture and compared to like settings.

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debbie



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2014 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

See this thread where I have already added the links to the 2014 results and some early responses to the results (see latest postings on this thread):

http://phonicsinternational.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=289&start=45
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debbie



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2014 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And now we have a Christine Blower comment in the BBC News piece:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-29376127

Quote:
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the check would not tell teachers anything "they do not already know about the reading skills of the children in their class".

"Teachers accept that phonics is one way to teach children to read but it is not the only one and does not suit all children."


It's really pretty poor when a high-profile leader of a high-profile teachers' union constantly demonstrates her lack of knowledge and understanding about reading instruction and the importance of teaching phonics within the bigger picture of reading instruction.

Sir Jim Rose pointed out that ALL children need to know the alphabetic code of our language - and the 'code' is the SAME for all children.

He pointed out in his Final Report (March, 2006) that children should not be left to 'ferret out' the code on their own.

The logic is really that simple.

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debbie



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2014 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is Russell Hobby's contribution:


Quote:
But Russell Hobby of the National Association of Head Teachers said "the widespread teaching of nonsense words" was an "unwelcome side effect".


Quote:
There have also been concerns that over-rigid use of phonics may put off children who are beginning to read fluently.

Mr Hobby said: "The systematic use of phonics is clearly established in primary schools and is proving an effective strategy for teaching most children the early steps of reading.

"The government's test has come with an unwelcome side effect though - the widespread teaching of nonsense words.

"The gap between pupils from rich and poor families remains wide.

"This gap will not close until we also focus on factors beyond technical skills - time spent reading at home and with parents, range of vocabulary and the amount of conversation children hear.

"You can't decode words on a page if you can't discriminate the sounds in the first place, nor can you enjoy a story if you don't know what the words mean."


1) I agree that there may well be an over-emphasis on decoding nonsense words. This would not have occurred with high-quality training for the whole profession that discusses this issue and points out that if each child were routinely able to practise decoding with banks of cumulative words, then this would not be the outcome. I have to say, however, that at least practice with nonsense words still enables children to apply their alphabetic code knowledge and their skill of blending which is a positive outcome when children were previously not getting enough decoding practice.

2) I agree that greater opportunity for reading at home will of course benefit children but it would also benefit children if teachers ensured more information for parents via meetings with them and via routine inclusion of both phonics material for information and practice along with cumulative, decodable books for children to read independently and inclusion of a book for the adult to read and share with the child (fiction and non-fiction).

This is why the 'Simple View of Reading' model is so important - to make clear that phonics is about the 'word recognition/blending' technical aspect of reading and that 'language comprehension' is fundamentally important too - and different types of 'literature' underpin both the main processes of reading.

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/The_Simple_View_of_Reading_model.pdf

3) For reading you don't have to be able to 'discriminate the sounds' in the same way as you do for spelling - but you do have to be able to 'say the sounds' in response to recognising the letters and letter groups - and you have to be able to 'discern the word' having said the sounds.

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Triangle_sub_core_skills.pdf

This short paper describes the need for masses of talking and sharing books as well as describes what phonics 'is':

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/FR_PI_About_teaching_reading_spelling.pdf
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2014/09/gibb-claims-rise-in-number-passing-screening-test-is-down-to-relentless-emphasis-on-phonics-but-dfe-commissioned-research-contradicts-this/

Read Maggie D's excellent 'readers' comment' based on facts - not indignant feelings, beliefs, misunderstandings and misinformation - the tendency of so many phonics detractors! Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a good piece in 'The Conversation' about findings from the Year One Phonics Screening Check and remaining gaps between different identifiable groups of children and regions:


http://theconversation.com/teaching-to-the-t-e-s-t-phonics-is-working-for-most-children-32236

I would suggest that whilesoever there are still marked gaps in phonics results, this means that there is still a great deal of room for improvement in teaching effectiveness.

Too many schools still identify themselves as 'Letters and Sounds' schools (as in the DfES free publication of 2007). We cannot have any real idea of what provision in such schools really looks like.

There are commonly identifiable features of 'Letters and Sounds' schools - they will all know what they mean when they refer to the 'Phases' for example and some of their practice will include games and activities described in the original publication.

But, in truth, the original publication is not a full body of work, not a complete, supportive programme, it does not include teaching or learning resources - therefore, school by school, teachers will have had to translate 'Letters and Sounds' into a programme.

What might this look like, then, school to school?

Some schools may have done an excellent job - but some schools will still be struggling to provide a cohesive, continuous rigorous phonics programme and common phonics practices throughout the school.

Some schools may have bought commercial programmes and/or resources to 'deliver' the principles of Letters and Sounds - to greater or lesser effectiveness.

I will not be satisfied until all these identifiable groups across the country are doing equally as well in the Year One Phonics Screening Check - and there is no gender gap.



Confused Confused Confused
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Criticism via the Institute of Education blog - more indignation about the role of Government in introducing the statutory Year One Phonics Screening Check. I've left a 'readers' comment' as I often do which is 'awaiting moderation' but just in case they don't allow my comment, I've copied and pasted it below anyway! Do read the full IOE posting - link below!

Quote:
Phonics test: changing pedagogy through assessment

Posted on September 30, 2014

by Alice Bradbury

If you want to change what teachers teach, should you change the curriculum, or change the assessment? For the last three years, all six-year-olds in England have had to take a Phonics Screening Check test, which they can either pass or fail. The introduction of this test by the coalition government was controversial, as there is much debate over the use of phonics in the teaching of reading. This year’s results have just been heralded as a victory for phonics as a greater proportion of children passed. However, if we look back at the evolution of this policy, as I have done in a paper presented last week at BERA and soon to be published in the Oxford Review of Education, we can see that the purpose of the Phonics Screening Check has always been surrounded by confusion.


http://ioelondonblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/phonics-test-changing-pedagogy-through-assessment/#comment-5893

The comment I posted on the IOE blog:

Quote:
I think it is historically incredible what is being achieved in England’s teaching profession and schools right now (this is a new era in reading instruction) although there is still some way to go to fully raise professional understanding about the role of phonics for reading and spelling and its relationship with language comprehension.

If various university academics were not so indignant about successive governments taking responsibility to investigate the body of research on reading instruction, AND to look at actual classroom findings to see what works most effectively and most inclusively, AND to support the teaching profession through various routes and actions, then they might, in contrast, actually allow themselves to get interested and indeed excited that teachers are becoming increasingly effective at phonics teaching enabling more children of all descriptions to lift the words off a page – whether those words are known in spoken language or whether not-known as in the use of the pseudo words in the Year One phonics screening check.

It would be very refreshing indeed to witness academics working collaboratively with Government, with the teaching profession, with phonics programme authors such as myself, with parents of learners, with those in the field of dyslexia and special needs – rather than continue to be critical and divisive.

Time to get on board?

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

See here for the number of schools (out of 16,000+) in 2013 and 2014 where 95% of the Year One children reached or exceeded the 32 out of 40 benchmark in the phonics check:


http://www.phonicsinternational.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=743
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am disgusted that the teachers' unions have banded together to produce this leaflet.

There is a great deal which is not said in this leaflet - information which would give an entirely different perspective:

Quote:
Year One Phonics Screening Check

What it does – and what it does not do!



http://www.teachers.org.uk/files/Phonics-Leaflet-A4-8238-Mono.pdf

This is a response that I wrote to David Reedy of the United Kingdom Literacy Association some time ago. The UKLA association is yet another group that has challenged the Year One phonics screening check vociferously:

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/reedy_response.pdf

Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Google alerted me to this letter which Minister of State for School Reform, Nick Gibb (the great champion of Systematic Synthetic Phonics) is sending out to schools achieving 95+% in the Year One Phonics Screening Check - good to see!:



http://www.birch.essex.sch.uk/phonics-checks-congratulatory-letter-from-nick-gib/
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