Return to tradition as phonics is favoured

3rd February 2006 at 00:00
Primary teachers across England are to be trained in using synthetic phonics to help children to read, in a return to traditional literacy teaching.

Each reception class teacher in a school could be given coaching in the technique, in which children build up words from letter sounds. Teacher training is also to be changed to place more emphasis on synthetic phonics.

The changes are expected in an update of the national literacy strategy's teaching framework, to go out to consultation in April for implementation from September.

Other changes will put more emphasis on speaking and listening, and on cross-curricular approaches to teaching English for all primary pupils.

Paul Wagstaff, director of the primary national strategy, said phonics training would be available to reception class teachers, in a "variety of packages", which schools could chose to use.

Some training would be self-study packages for teachers, some would be offered by local authorities. Strategy consultants will visit schools to work with staff.

Mr Wagstaff said: "A key aspect is early reading development. The teaching of phonics will be central to that."

One reading method favoured by the strategy has been tested in 200 schools, under the instruction of ministers, since September. It is based on synthetic phonics, in which children blend sounds together to make words.

The phonics drive is likely to provoke strong protests from some early-years campaigners.

John Bangs, National Union of Teachers head of education, said: "What we do not want is a juggernaut, where all training is geared towards phonics.

That's going to undermine good practice that teachers have built up with literacy consultants over recent years."

John Stannard, the architect of the national literacy strategy, said he was concerned over-emphasis on phonics teaching could create the impression that it was the only approach that was needed.

Jim Rose, Ofsted's former director of inspections, is leading the government review which will influence the literacy strategy update. He told MPs this week that he hoped the strategy would include training teachers in phonics.

Yet government-commissioned research revealed this week that the evidence in favour of using synthetic phonics was "relatively limited".

The study, by York and Sheffield university academies, found no strong evidence that synthetic phonics was more effective than the analytic approach, in which pupils break words into letter sounds.

leader 22

* warwick.mansell@tes.co.uk

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a TES/ TESS subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
 
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today