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.