CLPE, NAAE, NATE & UKLA's new plans for teaching reading.

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Susan Godsland
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CLPE, NAAE, NATE & UKLA's new plans for teaching reading.

Postby Susan Godsland » Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:27 pm

The 'mixed-method'-advocating organisations in England have got together to produce a series of documents which are, at heart, a plea for a return to past times (pre the 2006 Rose Report) when their advice on the teaching of reading held sway in schools.

Curriculum and Assessment in English 3 to 19: A Better Plan by John Richmond
CLPE, NAAE, NATE and UKLA have come together to make a common statement about the curriculum and assessment in English across the whole school age-range.

https://ukla.org/resources/details/curr ... =hootsuite
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: CLPE, NAAE, NATE & UKLA's new plans for teaching reading.

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Tue Feb 09, 2016 8:37 pm

Dear Susan, thank you for the link to these documents – very important!

Note this pdf in particular:

https://ukla.org/downloads/The_National ... m_2015.pdf

...from which I’ve copied and pasted a section below.

Only recently I posted something about the importance of ‘detail’ to ensure a common understanding and to avoid dangerous misunderstanding regarding the confusion of many teachers between multi-cueing reading strategies when these refer to cues for guessing unknown words, and multi-cueing reading strategies when these help the reader to deduce meaning and support language comprehension.

It seems to me that the section below is a classic case of confusing the two, very different, notions of 'multi-cueing' – see my red font below:

The following is copied from from the document 'Curriculum and Assessment in English 3 to 19: A Better Plan, National Curriculum for English from 2015' above and is well worth reading in full as it demonstrates the authors’ lack of understanding about phonics teaching and its relationship with vocabulary enrichment and language comprehension.

Anyway, here is a revealing extract - and 'revealing' in multiple different ways which I'll make explicit in a subsequent message:

The obsession with synthetic phonics

However enlightened are the government’s overall aims for reading, there is a particular problem with its position on early reading. Its obsession with synthetic phonics as the only way that young children should be taught to read, and its clear advice that no other method will work, entirely miss the point that learning to read is a broader, more complex task than could be achieved by any single ‘method’. The word ‘method’ is at the heart of the problem.We are not in any crude sense ‘anti-phonics’. We recognise that there are many grapho-phonic correspondences in the English writing system, and that it is sensible to take advantage of this convenient fact. Meanwhile, very many English written words, and especially many of the commonest ones – those that young children will encounter most frequently – do not demonstrate straightforward grapho-phonic correspondences.They have to be learned by means in which phonics can play no part. Furthermore, an excessive zealotry for synthetic phonics ignores a fundamental truth about reading: that it is essentially to do with the construction of meaning in the reader’s mind, on the basis of the evidence provided by marks on a page or a screen. ‘Method’, any method, is too narrow a term to do justice to the hypothesis-forming, rule-testing, rule-adapting, memory-employing, meaning-making complex activity which is reading.

‘Word reading’ and ‘comprehension’ at Key Stage 1: a false dualism

The requirements for reading for Key Stage 1 are divided into ‘word reading’ and ‘comprehension’. The word reading requirements for Years 1 and 2 fly directly and deliberately in the face of the idea that reading is a meaning-making activity. They are precise and detailed lists of instructions for the teaching of phonic rules. They demonstrate to its fullest extent the government’s determination that synthetic phonics is the only means by which young children should be taught to read. This extremism is carried to the point, in the requirements for children at Year 1, of the explicit discouragement of the reading of books containing words which fail to conform to grapho-phonic regularity (in other words, most of the books which five- and six-year-old children have been known over the years to enjoy).

Pupils should be taught to... read books aloud accurately that are consistent with their developing phonic knowledge and that do not require them to use other strategies to work out words. (Department for Education, 2014b: 21)

Coming as an unexpected breath of fresh air, the comprehension requirements offer teachers every opportunity to teach well. They begin:

Pupils should be taught to... develop pleasure in reading, motivation to read, vocabulary and understanding... (ibid.: 22)

The comprehension requirements then list some entirely reasonable means by which these desirable ends may be achieved.

Thus, the Key Stage 1 orders for reading as they stand are incoherent and contradictory. Broadly enlightened requirements on comprehension, which give teachers all the professional autonomy they need to teach well, sit side by side with requirements at the word reading level so detailed, so micro-managing, that the teacher here is nothing more than a technician following instructions. And the instructions are simply wrong. An obsessive, exclusive focus on synthetic phonics is not the way to produce confident, accurate readers. Pleasure in reading, which in the new orders is confined to comprehension, must apply equally at every level of encounter with texts, including word recognition. This will only occur when beginning readers are encouraged to bring the whole range of their intellectual faculties to bear on the text in order to derive meaning from it, and are not confined to following one narrow and intellectually flawed set of procedures.
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: CLPE, NAAE, NATE & UKLA's new plans for teaching reading.

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Tue Feb 09, 2016 8:46 pm

So what do the authors reveal in the extract I've copied and pasted in the previous message?

Let's start with:

The obsession with synthetic phonics

However enlightened are the government’s overall aims for reading, there is a particular problem with its position on early reading. Its obsession with synthetic phonics as the only way that young children should be taught to read, and its clear advice that no other method will work, entirely miss the point that learning to read is a broader, more complex task than could be achieved by any single ‘method’. The word ‘method’ is at the heart of the problem.


First of all, note the language used by the authors of 'obsession'.

This is a very emotive word and, arguably, not really fitting. It suggests a value judgement with no explanation.

Some background to the governmental promotion of systematic synthetic phonics in England:

The effort to draw attention to the need for phonics provision in our schools is long-standing. It is in response to the growing call for explicit, systematic synthetic phonics provision, based on an increasing number of schools with significantly improved results (using various systematic phonics programmes and practices) drawing attention to the efficacy of phonics - and to the growing body of international research showing the efficacy of systematic synthetic phonics.

As a consequence of much sustained lobbying over decades, successive governments in England, collaboratively (that is, as a cross-party issue), via a number of parliamentary inquiries, followed by Sir Jim Rose's government-commissioned independent review (Rose, Final Report, March 2006), increasingly modified the official guidance for reading instruction moving it away from using the multi-cueing reading strategies for guessing words towards more rigorous systematic synthetic phonics. This has culminated in Systematic Synthetic Phonics being embedded in statute in the English national curriculum, 2015 for beginner readers and slower-to-learn older readers as appropriate.

Whilst the critics of the promotion of Systematic Synthetic Phonics refer to this development as an 'obsession', please note that high-quality phonics provision had to be fought for, but in the three years of commissioned surveys of teachers' views on phonics and the Year One phonics screening check (National Foundation for Educational Research, 2013, 2014, 2015), it became clear that the picture of the actual teaching approach of a high percentage of early years and infant teachers is NOT CLEAR. The are indications that 'multi-cueing reading strategies' still prevail DESPITE the classroom findings of rigorous SSP schools and the international research and DESPITE the level of government promotion and clarity of the role of phonics and language comprehension as the two main processes of being a reader in the full sense.

Arguably the word 'obsession', then, says more about the critics than it does about the persistent promotion of phonics by successive governments of different political persuasions.
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: CLPE, NAAE, NATE & UKLA's new plans for teaching reading.

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:57 pm

Let's unpick this part now:

Its obsession with synthetic phonics as the only way that young children should be taught to read, and its clear advice that no other method will work, entirely miss the point that learning to read is a broader, more complex task than could be achieved by any single ‘method’. The word ‘method’ is at the heart of the problem.


The government does not state that 'no other method will work' but the government draws attention to the fact that multi-cueing reading strategies amounting to guessing words from cues such as the picture, initial letters and context will dilute the phonics teaching and lead children away from applying the alphabetic code and using their blending skill. The evidence is clear in the research (and classroom findings) that the multi-cueing reading strategies of the type which amount to guessing unknown words is potentially damaging for at least some children. There is plenty on the IFERI site to provide evidence of this fact documented in the research summaries by renowned researchers.

The government IS very, very clear that learning to read is a 'broader, more complex task than could be achieved by any single 'method'. Systematic Synthetic Phonics is not approached as a 'method' but as an important body of knowledge (the letter/s-sound correspondences of the complex English alphabetic code) that must be explicitly taught and well-learned, and the application of phonics skills - blending for reading (decoding) and oral segmenting and allotting graphemes for spelling (encoding).

Whilst the government also promotes the use of cumulative, decodable reading material so that children can apply the alphabetic code and phonics skills they have been taught, there is no restriction on exposure to all manner of language and literature. Over and again in the official literature, there are references to a language and literature-rich environment including highlighted in Sir Jim Rose's report. When children are asked to read INDEPENDENTLY, however, they should not be asked to read text which is technically far beyond them and which makes them have to resort to guessing unknown words by whatever means possible. This will not help them in the long run as it leads to a flawed reading habit of guessing - and guesses are often based on 'lookalike' words which are highly inaccurate and which often don't 'make sense' (Jacqui Moller-Butcher, 2016). Also, if the new words for decoding are not even in the child's spoken language, no manner of sensible guesswork will help them to lift the words off the page - only some form of phonics will help them come up with a pronunciation for completely unknown words. Further, it is possible for children to get the gist of new words because of the accompanying text, but without coming up with a pronunciation, they cannot ADD the new words to their oral vocabularies.

This means, without a secure phonics knowledge and blending skill, children cannot adequately grow their vocabularies and are far less likely to 'love reading' - and this state of affairs is evident to many secondary teachers and noted on various blogs of renowned secondary-teacher bloggers such as David Didau.

[Jacqui Moller-Butcher on 'lookaliking' reading:]

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=518
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: CLPE, NAAE, NATE & UKLA's new plans for teaching reading.

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:09 pm

The word ‘method’ is at the heart of the problem.


No. The heart of the problem is the distortion of the critics about the government-promotion of systematic synthetic phonics as being an 'obsession' - and their accompanying lack of understanding about the role of SSP within the broader, complex, experience of children from birth.

The critics are expert at distorting the scenario, not providing the context, failing to understand and take account of the research and classroom findings. Arguably, their rhetoric is also political as evidenced by the level of emotive language and resistance to sustained (successive) government efforts to pay regard to international research and best practice within other countries and in England itself.

Successive governments in England have been faced with the intense difficulty of turning around a juggernaut of whole language belief and practices amongst the teaching and teacher-training professions (and influencing the publishers who previously produced children's reading books based on predictable and patterned text and not cumulative, decodable text). Attempting to introduce research-informed reading instruction to a previously untrained and mis-trained teaching profession is evidently no easy feat.

There are people in various governments who have worked hard to promote systematic synthetic phonics, within a language-rich and literature-rich environment, for many years now.

What a shame that this debate goes on and on instead of commending those people in governmental positions who have taken illiteracy and weak literacy extremely seriously and, eventually, listened to SSP teachers and researchers to the point of doing something about the ill-advised and potentially damaging practices that dominated our infant and primary schools.
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: CLPE, NAAE, NATE & UKLA's new plans for teaching reading.

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:25 pm

Finally...

An obsessive, exclusive focus on synthetic phonics is not the way to produce confident, accurate readers. Pleasure in reading, which in the new orders is confined to comprehension, must apply equally at every level of encounter with texts, including word recognition. This will only occur when beginning readers are encouraged to bring the whole range of their intellectual faculties to bear on the text in order to derive meaning from it, and are not confined to following one narrow and intellectually flawed set of procedures.


These critics need to get into some SSP schools and see for themselves whether the children are 'confident, accurate readers' and whether they gain 'pleasure in reading'.

Of course beginning readers are 'encouraged to bring the whole range of their intellectual faculties to bear on the text in order to derive meaning from it' within SSP settings and provision - including at word level - but, no, they are not taught or encouraged to 'guess' what new words 'are'.

People who get to work with actual schools, whole schools, and who first-hand support teachers to fully understand and apply the Systematic Synthetic Phonics Teaching Principles, are privileged to hear of the profound and rapid changes that can be made to children's reading, spelling and writing.

Words such as 'inspiring', 'amazing', 'unbelievable' are used over and again by teachers, tutors, parents to describe their findings - how does this square with the 'obsession' of the government to promote SSP?
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: CLPE, NAAE, NATE & UKLA's new plans for teaching reading.

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:58 pm

Well, not quite 'finally', I have to take issue with this comment, which is not dissimilar to other comments made by people who claim they are not 'anti-phonics':

We are not in any crude sense ‘anti-phonics’. We recognise that there are many grapho-phonic correspondences in the English writing system, and that it is sensible to take advantage of this convenient fact. Meanwhile, very many English written words, and especially many of the commonest ones – those that young children will encounter most frequently – do not demonstrate straightforward grapho-phonic correspondences.They have to be learned by means in which phonics can play no part.


First of all, where is there any reference to, or understanding of, or even any respect for, the research of reading instruction and the conclusions based on the body of research?

We are all aware that many of the common words in English have unusual spellings, or spelling alternatives that tend to be introduced later in a phonics programme rather than sooner (such as the word 'was'), but this is not true:

They have to be learned by means in which phonics can play no part.


What the research has shown us is how very difficult it is for young beginners to recall words by their 'global shape'. We now know it is much better to introduce formally-planned reading instruction through an explicit, systematic synthetic phonics approach and then to drip-feed common words into the teaching - drawing attention to the parts of words that work in a straightforward way according to the phonics taught to date and to draw attention to the part of the words which is unusual or not taught systematically as yet. But this is all part of 'phonics' teaching.

All spoken words are 'phonic', and then spellings (letters and letter groups) are attributed to those sounds - the 'correspondences'. The fact that there are tricky and unusually-spelled words is even more grounds for the use of well-designed systematic synthetic phonics programmes and provision.

So - phonics plays a part in teaching all words including those with unusual spellings or rare spellings.

I just thought of these posters which I created to demonstrate how to group common words with rare spellings together and draw attention to their particular spelling:

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/unu ... osters.pdf

And any word can be linked to phonics teaching by this technique - whether with unusual spellings or simply new code to the learner:

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

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