Am I right in thinking a school should have a phonics based reading scheme?

(191 Posts)
Namechangenurseryconcerns Thu 20-Oct-16 09:22:14

Parents evening last night-ds (reception) doing well. Can blend cvc and read simple sentences. Tentatively asked when we might get a reading book alongside/rather than phonics worksheets /'picture cards' to discuss and was told that they don't really have books that can be phonetically decoded.
They have banded books-dreaded ORT, ginn etc but these aren't decodable to those in the first phases of phonics.
This is poor right? We have the songbirds books at home and will continue reading these ( teacher was happy with this) but what about the rest of the children?
Could someone in the know link me some requirements so I can make a polite fuss /help them with funding if necessary?

ShanghaiDiva Thu 20-Oct-16 09:31:45

I have been a parent reader for 8 years and the school I help in has floppy's phonics, jelly and bean, songbirds and some jolly phonics books to use for early reading. Sadly, we also have a stack of Kipper, Chip et al which cannot be decoded. Could it be that the school does not have huge quantities of books and therefore reception class tends to use phonics worksheets rather than books, as the books are being used in year one?

TreehouseTales Thu 20-Oct-16 09:35:11

It's quite early on in reception. Id be happy with worksheets as they're usually reading short sentences when they've only got cvc words. "Books" When you can't read yet can get quite boring and considering some kids are just 4 I'd imagine can put some off! I'd stick with what you've found.

By the end of reception they will be reading so much more and have so much more available to them.

Really there's no rush.

lacebell10 Thu 20-Oct-16 16:09:48

Our school has no reading scheme and high Sats results. Kids have free choice from day 1. Their reasoning is that children should enjoy and be interested in what they read and have read to them rather than be good early decoders with no enjoyment of reading.

KohINoorPencil Thu 20-Oct-16 16:14:20

We just can't afford to buy a whole new reading scheme. The HT is of the opinion that the budget is being cut so much, she can't buy books to be sent home, damaged and lost.

Andbabymakesthree Thu 20-Oct-16 16:17:28

Fundraise with PSA for this specific resources need?

WhiskyTangoFoxtrot Thu 20-Oct-16 16:21:49

"Their reasoning is that children should enjoy and be interested in what they read and have read to them rather than be good early decoders with no enjoyment of reading."

I think that's a seriously crap appraich and there is no reason whatsoever not to both teach the mechanics of reading whilst fostering an interest in stories and books. They're not mutually exclusive. And good teachers (who understand phonics) achieve that readily.

BerylStreep Thu 20-Oct-16 16:21:50

I'm no expert at all, but I have two children, one of whom was taught phonics, the other a more traditional way.

My DD, who was taught the more traditional way is by far the better speller amongst my DC. It may be a fluke, down to natural ability etc, but I don't think not doing phonics necessarily = poor reader / speller.

Randytortoise Thu 20-Oct-16 16:26:16

It costs thousands to buy new reading schemes etc. There just isn't the budget for it.

AuntieStella Thu 20-Oct-16 16:27:34

"the other a more traditional way."

Major misconception here - phonics is the traditional method and it has been in use for centuries.

There were other fashionable appraoches, factor briefly, in the second half of the twentieth century, and of course DC still learned to read. If you look at large samples of DC, those who were taught the phonic rules were better readers than those taught by any other method or combination of method. And IIRC another poster (mrz?) has linked findings that show that those who decode securely right at the start reading go on to BT the higher SATS achievers too.

The expected numbers who really struggle is lower with phonics (around 5%) than all other methods either singly or in combination (around 15%).

Feenie Thu 20-Oct-16 16:52:59

Our school has no reading scheme and high Sats results.

Unless by high you mean 100%, your school is ignoring the curriculum and doing their children a huge disservice.

mrz Thu 20-Oct-16 17:00:23

Lace bell is it a state school?

catkind Thu 20-Oct-16 17:10:47

Sounds really poor to me. Our school are also woefully short of phonics books and it really shows. Nothing sent home yet, apparently we will get some later in reception rationed to 1 a week, then ancient and uninspiring non-phonics books from year 1.
Frustratingly the PTA have plenty of funds in the bank and would happily spend them on books but the head says no.

hazelnutlatte Thu 20-Oct-16 17:18:49

My dd is in reception and is learning phonics, and has been bringing home the Biff, Chip and Kipper books. Someone unthread said that these were not suitable - could someone explain why please?

catkind Thu 20-Oct-16 17:22:32

There are some modern Biff Chip and Kipper books where the words are decodable, those are fine. It's just the older ones which were not written for phonics schemes that wouldn't be decodable for them at the early stages. Once they've covered the basics in phonics it doesn't matter so much.

DanyellasDonkey Thu 20-Oct-16 17:25:12

Our school teaches sounds by using Fast Phonics and Rigby Star reading books which build on the sounds they have been taught. This usually works fine for kids who take to blending sounds, but has been very problematic for those who don't and we have had some at the end of P2 who are still non-readers. A lot of parents (and pupils) hate these books as they're contrived "stories" simply to use words containing sounds they have learned.
I have taught in both England and Scotland (where they always taught phonics. When i first went to England I couldn't understand how they could teach reading and spelling without using phonics.

mrz Thu 20-Oct-16 17:58:54

Sadly Scotland hasn't always taught phonics and many schools there still teach multi cueing strategies.

PatSajack Thu 20-Oct-16 18:42:31

I was a teacher at a time and place in which phonics was considered just one element of a varied program of readin instruction. Phonics had its place, certainly, but did not limit children to reading only books that are awkward, repetitive, and boring as hell fully decodable. Those resources were available to use with individual children who needed them, but most didn't. I personally believe it is much more important to foster a love of books and reading than to teach a set of rules that don't consistently apply in real-life text. In order to do that we need to present every kid with reading materials that s/he will find interesting, exciting, and fun. E.g., NOT Biff and Chip.

In my experience, the more balanced approach worked beautifully. Many of the children needed little or no direct instruction in phonics, particularly NT children of average or above-average intelligence who had been read to a lot from an early age. For children who struggled with achieving fluency or simply hadn't had as much early exposure to a wide variety of books and language, phonics was a very helpful tool.

The other BIG difference between my experience and the way things are done today in the UK is simply the age of the children being taught. My students didn't even start formal school until they were at least five, and they only did half days for the first year. There was lots of time at school for free play and exploration of art, music, health, and personal/social development, as well as a gentle introduction to basic academic concepts. We presented reading in a low-pressure way and tried our best to tailor it to each child's interests and ability. It was not considered a problem if a child wasn't really reading even at six. By seven, the vast, vast majority of children had caught up and were reading just as ably and fluently as my own UK-educated children and their peers did at the same age in the UK. I think the current heavy reliance on phonics is the result of trying to teach children to read before it is developmentally appropriate. Every child's brain works in its own unique way, and those who are ready to read at very early ages will do so on their own just from exposure to books and reading. That's what happened to my DD, who was reading fluently before she started reception. My DS, on the other hand, didn't really pick it up until he was around six, and the school was getting very concerned. Ultimately I do think he benefited quite a bit from phonics instruction. Now DD is 12 and DS is 10, and they are both excellent students. Most importantly, they LOVE to read.

So basically, OP, I don't think it's necessary at all.

DanyellasDonkey Thu 20-Oct-16 18:42:33

They have always taught phonics in my area of Scotland., so I assumed it was the same all over. Obviously other areas of the country are different. I stand corrected.

KohINoorPencil Thu 20-Oct-16 19:21:48

You weren't really going to complain to school about their reading books, were you, OP?

Did you know how much they cost?

catkind Thu 20-Oct-16 19:38:21

OP has every right to complain if her school aren't adhering to the national curriculum KohINoor. NC specifies decodable books.

mrz Thu 20-Oct-16 19:38:49

I'd complain loudly about a school failing to meet their statutory duty to provide books that correspond with a child's phonics knowledge and skills. If they fail in something so basic what other statutory requirements are they choosing to ignore.

Schools have had ten years to build up a bank of phonic reading books ...there is absolutely no excuse.
There has been matched funding available and if really desperate they could purchase pink to orange bands Songbirds for £17 so for around £100 they could provide 6 copies of each book in the scheme

Feenie Thu 20-Oct-16 19:55:49

Hear, hear!

Namechangenurseryconcerns Thu 20-Oct-16 20:05:15

Thank you. I will raise it with them. Today he came home with an ORT phonics book (apparently from a set donated to the school) which was actually pretty good. Just the right level to decode and plenty of interest in the pictures.

MiaowTheCat Thu 20-Oct-16 20:06:33

We haven't had anything home in terms of phonics or reading yet! They've only just started doing phonics sessions in class this week apparently.

I'm not particularly concerned - the longer I have to wait to renew my acquaintance with bloody Biff and co the better! I'm just mildly bemused everyone's panicking about reading books so early in the school year on here.

Most schools I've come across have invested in some form of phonics-based reading scheme (and there's a chunk of Biff and co ones that ARE phonics based) but quite often have it bulked out with older ORT or whatever stuff as well because of the sheer cost of switching everything all at once.

Disclaimer: I actually quite like Biff. Chip and Kipper really - but there's only so many times a woman can endure the epic tale of Kipper trying to tie his shoelaces and maintain sanity.

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