When did England officially move away from multi-cueing word guessing and promote the Simple View of Reading model?

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When did England officially move away from multi-cueing word guessing and promote the Simple View of Reading model?

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Sun May 13, 2018 5:13 pm

You will find a great deal of information and references to the discrediting of 'multi-cueing reading strategies' when these amount to, in effect, guessing unknown printed words from cues such as pictures, context, initial letters, word shape.

England has changed its official advice regarding multi-cueing - referred to as the 'Searchlights reading strategies'. The 'Searchlights' were at the heart of the National Literacy Strategy which was rolled out with great clout in England in 1998 - including training for teachers and the provision of various 'free' official publications provided to schools.

As a consequence of many critics of the National Literacy Strategy, including the UK Reading Reform Foundation of which I am long-standing committee member, governments in England instigated a series of enquiries including: the 2003 DfES phonics seminar, and the 2005 House of Commons inquiry into teaching children to read which led to Sir Jim Rose being commissioned by the, then, Education Secretary to conduct an independent national review of teaching children to read.

Sir Jim Rose's report is internationally renowned - and marked a huge turning point in how the teaching of reading was to be 'understood' and conducted.

Here are two quotes provided by Dr Kerry Hempenstall that encapsulate this hugely significant change in official national guidance for teaching reading:

“Phonic work is best understood as a body of knowledge and skills about how the alphabet works, rather than one of a range of optional 'methods' or 'strategies' for teaching children how to read. For example, phonic programmes should not encourage children to guess words from non-phonic clues such as pictures before applying phonic knowledge and skills.” (p.2)
Department for Education (2010). Phonics teaching materials: Core criteria and the self-assessment process.

Retrieved from

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... rocess.pdf

“As recommended by the Rose review, all teachers in England are now expected to teach synthetic phonics as the first and main strategy for reading. The approach replaces the searchlights multi-cueing model advocated by the 1998 National Literacy Strategy. … The review found much convincing evidence to show that 'synthetic' phonics was the form of systematic phonic work that offered the vast majority of beginners the best route to becoming skilled readers and made a convincing case for the inadequacy of the existing 'searchlights' model for beginner readers.” (p.2)

The General Teaching Council for England. (2007). Research for teachers: Teaching phonics effectively.

Retrieved from

http://www.ntrp.org.uk/sites/all/docume ... tively.pdf

The tragedy is that this change of professional guidance and 'understanding' is adopted only in England - not the entire United Kingdom.

Indeed, IFERI committee member, Anne Glennie, supported by IFERI committee member, Gordon Askew, has felt compelled to draw attention to politicians in Scotland regarding the prevailing teacher-training in Scotland being insufficiently based on the findings of research, see this thread:


Visitors to the forum of IFERI will also know of the current battle in Australia to promote evidence-informed teacher-training for reading instruction - and for national adoption of an infants' phonics screening check.

This inconsistency in teacher-training and official guidance in different countries, or different regions in various countries, is very worrying indeed. The IFERI forum illustrates that the approach children receive for reading instruction in the English language is still based entirely on CHANCE - and that is not good enough. We DO know how best to teach reading and it should not be left to chance and teachers' preferences - or lack of evidence-informed teacher-training and professional development. We DO know that multi-cueing reading strategies amounting to word-guessing can be very damaging for at least some children.

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