I’ve long thought that, when it comes to the teaching of reading and spelling, the TES simply hasn’t got a clue what it is talking about. Never does it miss the opportunity to denigrate the teaching of phonics, even though the evidence in favour of a phonics approach is overwhelming.
Yesterday (Friday 1 April 2011), for example, it couldn’t wait to emblazon across its front page ‘Phonics knocked off perch by official review’, a claim vigorously and immediately denied by the author of the said review Clare Tickell.
What the TES had lighted upon was the statement, referring to the early years foundation stage profile results, by Bernadette Duffy, head of Thomas Coram Early Childhood Centre and a member of the review panel, that ‘linking sounds to letters has gone up, but that has not necessarily been matched by a similar increase in children’s reading’.
Dame Tickell, issued an immediate rebuttal on the Department for Education website, saying:
'I have not recommended that phonics should be downgraded. Phonics is one of the most robust and recognised ways of helping children to learn to read and write. My report clearly highlights the importance of children starting school ready and able to learn, and I set out in the reading and writing goals the phonic development children should have reached by the age of five.'
The TES has, ever since I can remember, adopted a brazenly ideological stance against the teaching of phonics and, like a dog returning to its own vomit, it seizes every opening to renounce it. The problem is that it makes no effort to find out what a proper phonics programme looks like or how it is taught. This is not only ignorant journalism, it’s also lazy journalism.