Systematic Sythnthetic Phonics

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‘A critical discussion about the introduction of systematic synthetic phonics into the primary curriculum since 2007 and the implications of this for the teaching and learning of English’

This essay will discuss the impact that the independent review of the Teaching of Early reading, often referred to as the Rose Review, commissioned by the Secretary of State for Education for England, has had on teaching and learning English. It will look at the implications for schools focussing on Early Years foundation and Key Stage 1. The National Literacy Strategy has been in place since 1998 and since this time there has been a significant increase in the teaching of phonics in literacy, and there have been substantial changes and improvements in the teaching. Although the teaching of phonics has been increased and an improvement has been seen, children were still failing to meet the standards expected in literacy, which means teachers needed to review and improve the way they teach phonics in the literacy hour. Here in the UK we live in a print dependent society, so it is important that, as far as is possible, all children become effective readers and writers, people who are both functionally literate and who enjoy engaging with print. In March 2006 the Secretary of State for Education for England, commissioned the Rose Report which recommended that synthetic phonics must be included in the early reading instruction (Styles.M, 2007). The Rose review provided a simple model of reading which basically states that skilled reading requires two processes: the reader recognises and understands the words on the page (word recognition and decoding) and the development of language comprehension ( that is written texts as well as spoken language are understood and interpreted). Both processes are required, but one without the other is not sufficient (Ofsted, Getting them reading early, 2011) There has always been a debate regarding the teaching of reading, relating to published schemes or a whole language approach, and it had been said that “understanding the particular demands made by a language like English is crucial for the successful early teaching of reading in English”. Joyce Morris (1984) believed that synthetic phonics was the only way to teach reading and described it as teaching students to convert letters into sounds to form recognisable words, compared to Analytic phonics which introduces children to whole words before teaching them to analyse these into their component part (Styles.M, 2007). Personal teaching practice has seen Jolly Phonics, Letters and Sounds and more recently Read, Write Inc (appendix 1) being used to teach and learn English, throughout Foundation stage and Key Stage 1. These schemes work alongside the principle that children will learn a new sound and then be able to blend sounds together to form a word, they are not literally reciting a word from memory. Whichever programme is delivered, it has been emphasised how importance it is to remain consistent, systematic and delivery being regular, else there is a high chance of the programme being floundered, which is referred to as “fidelity to the programme”. Through own teaching practice it has been seen where a child memorises words on sight within a book, or literally remembers the story from having it read to them, and then when they read it to a teacher they are believed to have read it fluently so are just given the next book, and before long the child is moved up the reading scheme without having any knowledge of reading at all, and this sometimes is not picked up for some time, and so has a detrimental effect on the child’s reading. Parents do not always have the knowledge to realise when their child is just reciting what they have heard, so foremost it is the responsibility of the teacher to ensure the children do have the strategies provided to them to allow them to read accurately, so therefore the Rose Review may help in preventing...
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