If Bill Gates really wants to help education….
Jan 5, 2016
Bill Gates is one of America’s greatest business geniuses. But when he turned to education, his magic touch vanished.
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/bill-gat ... k-articles
Bill Gates should now put together a group of the best phonics experts and create the ultimate reading instruction. This could be called Gates Reading. He could make another fortune.
I'm also concerned about a lack of joined-up action and thinking here in England:
The Education Endowment Foundation is ploughing a large sum of money, and some interventions trialled through the EEF, into the North East region of England.
https://educationendowmentfoundation.or ... th-east-l/
What we need to see, however, is the 'report' which summarises the state of play (with specific detail) of the 'mainstream' systematic phonics provision in the schools in that region.
This 'report' may well exist - I don't know - it could be that I'm just not aware of it. I shall investigate this further and if anyone knows about the existence of such a report, please let IFERI know.
Before ploughing money into specific intervention projects, true accountability would amount to at least these two developments:
1) A full analysis of the 'mainstream' phonics, language and literature provision in the schools concerned - and who would be best placed to inform such an analysis?
2) An appreciation of which phonics programmes and practices have NOT been researched by the Education Endowment Foundation - which, arguably, are in danger of being ignored or neglected in preference to the programmes which have been researched by the EEF.
I've raised this issue of the need for an analysis of first-time phonics teaching previously when an intervention was funded in another region in England apparently to good effect, to fully understand why the children concerned required 'intervention' in the first place?
Where is the report to analyse the situation of the first-time provision?
When I found out more about this particular 'intervention', it looked to me like an extremely weak and inappropriate intervention for the children concerned - and not in line with what the mainstream systematic synthetic phonics provision SHOULD have looked like. Sir Jim Rose has recommended that, first and foremost, intervention needs to be in line with mainstream phonics provision and practice.
See this article and the 'readers' comments':
I'm not suggesting for one moment that there will never be children who require more intensive provision than others, but I AM suggesting that this issue is, arguably, still more about the quality and content of the first-time (mainstream) phonics teaching provision - which should include vocabulary enrichment and language comprehension - but which is not always the reality. We REALLY need to know and understand the existing practice in England's schools before ploughing money and EEF intervention programmes into the mix.
So - back to the issue of 'who' should be consulted with regard to poor progress in literacy:
Here in England, the two phonics programmes that I am associated with were thoroughly scrutinised for the government's match-funded phonics initiative (2011 to 2013) - along with the accompanying training provision - for mainstream and for intervention. A handful of other systematic synthetic phonics programmes and their training provision also passed muster. Would these programmes' authors not be a good place to start in terms of 'putting together a group of the best phonics experts' to report back on their findings in schools - both using their specific programmes and generally?
Here is the great 'disconnect' because no-one in 'officialdom' has approached me, or all the other programme authors, to report back on our wider findings and detailed findings - and, instead, the job of moving the country forwards has become institutionalised by a very 'corporate' looking organisation provided with huge amounts of public funding. I'm in the process of finding out who else amongst the country's (arguably) leading phonics programme authors and specialists have been consulted to look at the delivery of their programmes and the provision of phonics more generally.
I have now been told by a representative of the Education Endowment Foundation that there is no need to investigate 'phonics' as phonics provision is already evidence-based. Well - that sounds like a rational argument - but it isn't.
The provision of 'phonics' is so fundamentally important as high-content, high-quality phonics is essential when it comes to the generally less articulate, slower-learners, learners with a range of learning difficulties, learners for whom English is an additional language - and so on. This means that it is important not to PRESUME that mainstream schools have delivered high-content, high-quality phonics but to ENSURE that our infant and primary schools provide the highest quality possible. So, is there a report in weaker regions with an analysis of the phonics provision?
So - phonics is still key.
Who is most likely to know and understand whether schools are providing good-enough phonics content?
The programme authors/trainers/consultants of the phonics programmes already informed by science and featured in the government's match-funded phonics initiative one would have thought.
But for the Education Endowment Foundation (and others) - these programme authors with their specific expertise appear irrelevant, it seems, to the state of literacy in the North East.
By the way, we do know in England that not all teachers know, understand or apply the full 'Systematic Synthetic Phonics Teaching Principles' according to three surveys by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER, 2013, 2014, 2015) commissioned by the Department for Education here:
https://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/YOP ... 2_home.cfm
Note the key findings in the 2014 report:
Teachers were positive about phonics as an approach to teaching reading, and its contribution towards early reading development. In the majority of schools, however, other strategies alongside phonics were also supported.
Teachers were asked about changes to phonics teaching that had been made as a result of their experiences of the check the previous year. The most frequently reported change by both survey and case-study respondents was the introduction of pseudo words into phonics sessions.
Exploratory analysis of National Pupil Database (NPD) data suggests that most children who achieve level 2 in reading and writing at key stage 1 have previously met the expected standard on the check at the end of Year 1, but there is a substantial minority (over a quarter) who have not.
Has the Education Endowment Foundation looked into the state of play in the schools in the North East of England regarding the persistence of the 'multi-cueing reading strategies' and the consequence for slower-to-learn children?
Kevan Collins heads up the Education Endowment Foundation. In the parliamentary inquiry in 2005, Kevan defended the 'searchlights' multi-cueing reading strategies when England's National Literacy Strategy guidance for reading instruction was being challenged by the UK Reading Reform Foundation and others.
Susan Godsland (IFERI committee member) and I predict that England's results for the Year One Phonics Screening Check will stall out between 80% and 85% at best whilesoever England's teachers continue with an eclectic mix of some systematic synthetic phonics but 'multi-cueing searchlights reading strategies' for word-guessing - and their continued use of reading books which enforce children to guess at words or to try to memorise whole words and sentences through familiarity with the books. The national average result in 2015 was 77% of England's Year One children reaching or exceeding the benchmark for the phonics check (that is, 32 out of 40 words read correctly or plausibly in the case of the pseudo words).
The continuance of mixed methods with weaker phonics practice will let down the very 'pupil premium' children that the EEF is tasked with helping - see here:
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) exists to fund the development and evaluation of cost-effective and replicable projects that seek to improve the educational attainment of pupils who are eligible for free school meals.
Our focus is on supporting projects that show promising evidence of having a measurable impact on attainment or a directly related outcome.
We are interested in testing projects’ effectiveness through robust independent evaluations, where appropriate as randomised controlled trials.
If they are shown to have an impact, they should be able to be replicated and scaled up to improve outcomes for other disadvantaged pupils.