What did yesterday's SATs news tell us that we didn't already know? The results show a decline in performance, with more than 1400 primary schools falling below the government’s so-called 'floor target' for attainment in maths and English.
What's the government's response? According to the BBC's education correspondent, Gary Eason, it wants 'local authorities to pressurise head teachers to improve'. And how, I’d like to ask, are the local authorities going to do that when they haven't made any substantial progress in either of those areas in the past ten years? In fact, we seem to be going backwards.
The truth is that local authorities are full of people giving contradictory or inept advice to teachers in schools. Ever slavish to the edicts of the DCSF, the local advisers press schools into adopting an untried and untested programme for teaching children to read and spell: Letters and Sounds. Not only is this programme incoherently structured but the training (where there is any training at all!) is derisory, delivered in many instances by people who don't understand how the writing system works.
At the time of the Rose Review, we were promised by government officials that schools would be allowed to choose which phonics programme they wanted to use. In practice, we hear all the time of bullying tactics being used on teachers in order to force them to use L&S.
This charade has gone on long enough! Look at the league tables of schools in which huge numbers of children cannot even attain the basic standards set by the government. The blame does not lie with the struggling pupils; it lies squarely with the teacher training institutions and a government obsessed with imposing its half-baked programmes on an education system yearning for change.
The bottom line is that parents need to know that their children are leaving primary school able to read, spell and handle basic arithmetic.
Sounds-Write have just published their six-year study on 1607 pupils who have been taught using Sounds-Write for the first three years of their schooling. Read the Report.