Let's spare a few moments to consider this scenario:
First of all, the report on the pilot is very short and easy to read - but, as yet, I haven't been able to find any more details/specifics about the pilot including, for example, any description or analysis of the intervention practices in the 300 schools - nor indeed any information about the First-time teaching for phonics and reading instruction in these schools.
So - if there are so many schools with Year 3 children who have apparently had systematic synthetic phonics provision since Reception (therefore, for four years) but who have not yet managed to reach the 32 out of 40 benchmark of words that are generally not challenging, shouldn't those in authority be looking closely at the reading instruction and what it actually 'looks like' in those schools?
It is noted in the report that many of the Year 3 children in the pilot were not identified as 'special needs' within the schools. https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... -at-year-3
• Of the 1,625 year 3 pupils who took part in the year 3 Phonics Screening Check pilot, 51% met the expected standard.
• 59% of pupils who took part in the pilot with a first language other than English met the expected standard.
• 39% of pupils with special educational needs support or statement met the expected standard, compared with 65% of pupils with no special educational needs.
Table 1 provides more information on pass rates and pupil characteristics.
Table 2 provides a summary of the answers given in the teacher questionnaire
My impression is that the questionnaire for the pilot included very general questions - not specific about programmes and practices used for both the mainstream and intervention teaching.
We need to link this scenario with other details we can glean from reading instruction in schools in England. What, for example, does 'systematic synthetic phonics' provision 'look like' across different schools?
Although my personal observations and analysis of what provision 'looks like' is inevitably a tiny sample, nevertheless, I have been able to draw some conclusions first hand - and I can couple these with information from video footage, forums, experiences colleagues have also reported - so a somewhat 'collective' analysis.
From my observations, then, I was able to draw up the graphic below:
The Simple View of Schools' Phonics Provision:https://phonicsinternational.com/Simple ... chools.pdf
If you look at the graphic, you will see that phonics provision is not at all uniform or consistent (not only from school to school, but also in some cases from class to class, or teacher to teacher). You will also note that many schools still persist with the multi-cueing reading strategies which amount to such practices as 'guessing' unknown printed words from picture, context, initial letters, word shape, reading on..and going back - all of which have been flagged up as damaging practices for beginner readers. Multi-cueing for making meaning is entirely different from multi-cueing to guess the actual words. Mixing phonics provision with multi-cueing for guessing the printed words does not amount to the research-informed 'systematic synthetic phonics teaching principles'.
I have noted these characteristics of practice in my own work - so surely the Department for Education with cooperation from Ofsted could have noted the content, method and quality of reading instruction in a more thorough way.
Further, I have now established a blog of my own focused very much on 'intervention' and accountability. I write about, and provide evidence of, the very parlous state of the type of whole language guidance which still persists from many schools and from many literacy and intervention organisations - including in England.
This surely raises further questions about the nature, content and quality of intervention received by Year 3 children in England?
Again, I have seen first hand in my consultancy work that slower-to-learn children are often sent off to interventions which do not fit in with the description of 'First-time' teaching as described and expected according to the National Curriculum for English in our primary schools. Sometimes these interventions are simply computer-based word work - not necessarily the same skills practice as First-time phonics teaching - and sometimes the interventions are mixed methods or whole language - and sometimes they are phonics-based but, again, not in line with the First-time phonics provision and skills practice. There is a lack of, or total absence of, paper-based practice - with impoverished content at best.
I write about this issue here:https://phonicsintervention.org/2017/01 ... ds-advice/
If you glance at my blog post above, you will note that I also mention guidance for parents or carers. This is often multi-cueing guessing strategies, perhaps with some phonics in the mix, but it is generally patronising - and certainly not the kind of guidance you would want to give to parents of Year 3 strugglers with the aspiration of working in partnership with parents.
This whole scenario should flag up serious worries to those in authority.
We clearly have many Year 3 children, and older, who require the highest quality, richest content of systematic synthetic phonics provision (and of course, additional language comprehension and literature work) so what will be the steer from authority going forwards for such children?
I write a damning critique of the Education Endowment Foundation's description of 'Phonics' here which, again, provides evidence of the very, very parlous state of knowledge and understanding of reading instruction that prevails to this day - even in England:https://phonicsintervention.org/2017/01 ... -projects/