When I went to see Nick Gibb eighteen months ago at the House of Commons, he indicated that, if the Conservatives won the next election, he and Michael Gove would do two things.
The first would be to invite providers of phonics programmes to submit themselves to a revised [The last government introduced the idea.] system of self-evaluation, which would then be scrutinised by the government. The second was to promise funding for schools wanting to train their staff to teach phonics.
He got the first of these tasks under way some time ago and those providers who have already entered the lists are duly being measured against the criteria laid out in the Department’s Self-Assessment Form for Phonics Providers. Yesterday, Nick Gibb fulfilled the second of his promises. The Department for Education announced that:
"Primary schools will be able to claim up to £3,000, if they match that funding, to spend on materials which meet the Department for Education’s criteria for an effective phonics programme.
A list of approved resources – including phonics products for teachers and pupils and training for teachers – will be published by the Department by September although some products and training will be available by the end of June. Schools will decide which of the resources will help them to deliver high-quality phonics teaching for their pupils and will be able to buy products and training with the match-funding any time up to March 2013."
This is a major step forward and will enable schools to accomplish what Sounds-Write have always argued strongly for: that all teaching practitioners engaged in the teaching of reading and spelling, whether as a beginning strategy or as an intervention, should be properly trained to teach what Jim Rose recommended: a structured, cumulative, sequential, explicit and code-oriented instructional programme for teaching all children to read and spell. This may not be rocket science, but it is almost!
As we have consistently maintained, thrusting a manual into someone’s hands and expecting that them ‘to get on with it’ was never going to be enough. It has always been about adequate training.
Nevertheless this is only a start! Even if money is found and training takes place, everyone concerned with education needs to know which phonics programmes are the most effective.
Thanks to Susan Godsland for bringing this new information to my attention.