Is phonics the best way to teach kids to read? Nick Gibb and Michael Rosen debate

(1000 Posts)
ElenMumsnetBloggers (MNHQ) Tue 10-Jul-12 12:38:12

Last month all year one children in England had to take a phonics screening check, and phonics is being rolled out across the country as the way to teach children to read. But is this too prescriptive? We asked children's author Michael Rosen and Education Minister Nick Gibb to debate phonics. Read their debate about phonics as a tool for children to learn to read here and have your say. Do you agree with Nick Gibb or Michael Rosen? Is phonics the most effective way to teach children to read? Should we use several ways of teaching reading, or concentrate on phonics? Join the debate.

mathanxiety Thu 26-Jul-12 05:37:11

'And what is wrong with the Clackmanshire study and other research into the effectiveness of SP?'

How much time do you have?

'Synthetic Phonics and the Teaching of Reading: The Debate Surrounding England's Rose Report' by Dominic Wyse and Morag Styles in Literacy Volume 41 Number 1 April 2007.

The authors discuss the Clackmannanshire Study's flaws and conclude:
- Controls for children’s levels of prior attainment and development lacked rigour.
-The socio-economic backgrounds of the children were not adequately assessed.
-Very little information was given about the schools: for example, their effectiveness.
-The experience and effectiveness of the people implementing the programmes was not adequately controlled.
- Experiments 1 and 2 were not valid comparisons of the synthetic phonics teaching method versus the analytic phonics teaching method because the different groups were taught different amounts.
- Reading comprehension was not significantly improved by the synthetic phonics approach.

In addition, the children studied tended to be about six months older than English students at a comparative stage.
The authors point out that
'The majority of evidence in favour of systematic phonics teaching refers to children age 6 and older. Twenty out of the 43 studies covered in the Torgerson et al. (2006) and NRP meta-analyses were carried out with children aged 6–7. Only nine studies were carried out with children aged 5–6. No studies were carried out with 4-year-olds. The idea that children younger than five will benefit from a systematic phonics programme is not supported by evidence and is arguably one of the most controversial recommendations of the Rose Report.'
(In the current UK context, teaching phonics means teaching phonics to 4 year olds, based on the Rose Report recommendations. This will be a massive experiment.)

'A Systematic Review of the Research Literature on the Use of Phonics in Reading and Spelling' -- A meta analysis of research on systematic phonics, both synthetic and analytic, and other methods, by Torgerson, Brooks and Hall, 2006.

'And why does your data fail to analyse the effect of specific educational methods on the learning of deprived children, when it recognises that education can have an impact on their life chances? Isn't your data incomplete?''

What I have provided is links to different studies, and a perusal of Torgerson shows that different studies look at different things.

What Torgerson also shows is that studies may be compared in a systematic way that can yield solid indications, and among their conclusions was the following:
'Since there is evidence that systematic phonics teaching benefits children’s reading accuracy, it should be part of every literacy teacher’s repertoire and a routine part of literacy teaching, in a judicious balance with other elements.'

mathanxiety Thu 26-Jul-12 02:56:44

Allchildren reading -- do you simply not believe what the League Tables show about FSM children's 20 percentage point lag behind non-FSM children's performance?

If not, there is nothing I can do for you.

rabbitstew Wed 25-Jul-12 23:28:51

mathanxiety - could you just clarify for me please. Are you anti-the SP focus in schools because you don't think it will improve anything (ie that it will have no impact on the proportion of the 19% who get a level 4 and above in SATS and will have no impact on the proportion of the 81% who get a level 4 and above....)? Or are you against it because you haven't done any statistical analysis on it, so have no idea what effect it will have?

And what is wrong with the Clackmanshire study and other research into the effectiveness of SP? And why does your data fail to analyse the effect of specific educational methods on the learning of deprived children, when it recognises that education can have an impact on their life chances? Isn't your data incomplete?

allchildrenreading Wed 25-Jul-12 22:29:59

Maths - you may have provided this information. Do you teach? If so, do you teach 4-6 year olds how to read so that they can enjoy reading and read to learn?
Have you worked out why Oxford, with its two universities and a fair degree of middle class - largely intelligent - inhabitants, should get worse results in SATs than an inner city area such as Newham which has a massive number of recent immigrants, refugees and is an area of considerable poverty?

allchildrenreading Wed 25-Jul-12 22:22:24

Maths - the link provided for you by Maizie:
educationfortomorrow.org.uk/2008/98teaching.html

covers both deprivation AND reading instruction.
Perhaps you could read it and comment?

Feenie Wed 25-Jul-12 22:15:36

Not particularly.

Ditto mrz - very different things.

mrz Wed 25-Jul-12 22:09:21

You seem to be confusing my lack of interest in your posts to lack of interest in education. I can assure you they are very different things.

choccyp1g Wed 25-Jul-12 22:02:10

Math: "so she tells us choccyp1g" do you mean that you think Mrz is lying about how many children in her school get l4 and l5, or do you mean maybe none of them are properly deprived? or both?

mrz Wed 25-Jul-12 21:58:08

I don't have any stake in SP as it isn't the method I teach math

mathanxiety Wed 25-Jul-12 21:57:02

Do you want me to personally pat you on the back, Feenie?

mathanxiety Wed 25-Jul-12 21:55:47

An argument about scale/bias/other flaw in a study is not a put down Mrz. Maybe your problem here in accepting the validity of research I have posted is that you have too much of an emotional stake in SP and take any questions about it personally?

It is (sadly) clear that you have little to no professional interest, or even much curiosity, in anything other than SP, to which you seem to have a passionate attachment.

Feenie Wed 25-Jul-12 21:51:20

Until you tell us what it is you do to actually make a difference - aside from sitting on your mouse like a doomsayer telling everyone else how they don't - then I'm afraid it isn't me who is making a fool of myself, math. My conscience is quite clear.

mathanxiety Wed 25-Jul-12 21:51:04

I have used the terms 'suggest', 'suggests' and other similar terms time and time again Mrz, because I am well aware that individual products of research are not the absolute last word on any given subject. And that includes research on SP.

mrz Wed 25-Jul-12 21:51:02

Math if we conducted a study you would only dismiss it as small scale /biased/unrepresentative or one of your other put downs

mathanxiety Wed 25-Jul-12 21:47:57

Your post gives me hope, Juggling.

mrz Wed 25-Jul-12 21:47:36

Actually I glazed over before the introductory pages math but I have read the reports only I think they need to be viewed with more than a degree of caution and a huge amount of scepticism whereas you seem to regard them as an absolute

mathanxiety Wed 25-Jul-12 21:46:47

So she tells us, Choccyp1g. Sadly, until what she does can be studied and controlled for personal factors it is not possible to assume anything about her method, and since she claims to have an atypical cohort of FSM parents to deal with it is likely that her results could not be replicated elsewhere.

Feenie
'we can't be successful in what we do each day because we are a small sample, they are anecdotes, individual case, yadda yadda.'

-- I suggest in all seriousness that you stop making a fool of yourself and learn to read. Focus on comprehension skills.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Wed 25-Jul-12 21:43:40

Sounds like there's some interesting research linked to on here by math - I hope it will stay around long enough for me to read some of it ? (I think it's just threads in some topics that disappear after reaching 1000 posts ?)

Thanks math, you're right some of us working with children will be very interested ...

Feenie Wed 25-Jul-12 21:42:36

Most people who are sincerely trying to make things better are actually very interested in research, because bashing away at what you are doing regardless of whether it is likely to have a good effect or a sustained effect without tackling other aspects of the problem is really, really stupid.

Yes, math - teaching every child to read and flourish year after year is really, really stupid. Show me a school who doesn't try to tackle other aspects of the problem. Who said their school didn't?

And banging on on MN about how it can't be down to any one method because of this paper, and that paper, in the face of children sucessfully doing it day in, day out is really, really clever. And working for change in parenting, yes, I can see that now. hmm

choccyp1g Wed 25-Jul-12 21:40:01

But what MRz is "bashing away" at, is actually working!! I wish she could come to our (middle-class) school and get the ame results.

Feenie Wed 25-Jul-12 21:39:00

Only going on what you never tire of telling us, math - we can't be successful in what we do each day because we are a small sample, they are anecdotes, individual case, yadda yadda.

mathanxiety Wed 25-Jul-12 21:37:32

Mrz, I am guessing you are another who didn't bother reading far beyond the introductory pages before your eyes glazed over.

mathanxiety Wed 25-Jul-12 21:36:35

I am sorry you feel galled. And bored.

Most people who are sincerely trying to make things better are actually very interested in research, because bashing away at what you are doing regardless of whether it is likely to have a good effect or a sustained effect without tackling other aspects of the problem is really, really stupid.

mrz Wed 25-Jul-12 21:35:13

They don't really prove much do they

mathanxiety Wed 25-Jul-12 21:33:10

If you bothered reading those papers you would see that they prove nothing of the sort, Feenie.

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