Monday, February 01, 2010

Why the Government is wrong about a 'time-limited' approach to phonics teaching (Part I).

The question of how long pupils in school should be taught phonics before explicit teaching is dropped is one that has exercised teaching practitioners ever since the expression 'time limited' was coined in the Rose review.
Since then, many phonics advocates have suggested variously that teaching should conclude at the end of YR, Y1 and Y2. What we think at Sounds-Write is not only theoretical, but clearly supported by the evidence of the data we have collected over the past six years.
Our starting point is this: teach Sounds-Write every day for half an hour a day as soon as pupils in Reception have built up the ability to concentrate (usually, if taught with pace and enough variety is introduced, this is achieved very quickly – certainly by the first half-term). If this is done by the end of Y2, teaching always from simple to more complex, building children's understanding and knowledge of the code and developing their skills of blending, segmenting and phoneme manipulation, very large numbers of children will rapidly become proficient readers and spellers.
Our data collection indicates that, where schools do exactly that, as many as sixty-five to seventy percent of Y2 classes are reading and spelling at a level two years and three months above their chronological age (CA). Only a very small percentage (two to six percent) are reading and spelling at a level below their CA.
Tomorrow: more about the thirty-five percent who are not yet at a level two years and three months above their CA. And more about the two to six percent who are reading and spelling at a level below their CA.

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