How to approach teacher about non phonics readers

(72 Posts)
Jumpingshipquick Sat 04-Nov-17 08:15:54

So my 3rd child is now in reception. She has a brilliant teacher who has done a great job with the other 2. She teaches phonics thoroughly BUT sends home crappy guess the completely un-decodable word by looking at the pictures pm readers. In some ways it’s fine because I have bought/ know where to find decodable readers in the library and just use those instead. My child will be ok. It’s just so frustrating. The school is not following the national curriculum requirement for cumulative decodable readers, it’s not best practice, and it’s mixed messages for children and parents that just slows everybody down. There will be some children that this is harming their progress.

So how do I best tackle it? Slightly complicated by the fact I have links with the school as a secondary teacher in the town, so I need to be reasonably professional . (And I probably already have a name at the school for being arsey) I’ve tried ignoring because Dd3 will be fine, but the idealist in me can’t keep quiet.

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Marsali Sat 04-Nov-17 11:27:09

I have been that teacher... totally hampered by a HT who refused to buy new books.

Are you on the PTA? My new school's PTA fundraised for our books. Or you could donate your old ones.

Jumpingshipquick Sat 04-Nov-17 20:54:58

I approached the teacher. She tried to justify it, which was a bit more worrying. The pta would totally be up for it.

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MidniteScribbler Mon 06-Nov-17 06:05:27

We have just two classroom sets of decodable books so far for the whole school. Plus I purchased a set of my own (which were not cheap - just over $2000 Australian Dollars). My principal would murder me if I sent home one of the school ones, and there is not a chance in hell I'm sending one of my own home because I'll never see it again. We're a brand new school, and our P&C is currently fundraising to get more sets.

There are plenty of decodable books available online that you can read at home. has over 100 books that are free to read. The Little Learners Love Literacy series has an iTunes app with all of their books in it that you can download at home. This site: has a long list of sites with plenty of access to books.

Norestformrz Mon 06-Nov-17 06:33:00

Sounds Write have just made their early readers available on Kindle for around £1.00 a book

Jumpingshipquick Mon 06-Nov-17 06:52:24

Thank you! That is all brilliant. Is it worth approaching the teacher though? How do I convince her and the head that mixed methods are likely to be slowing the children down. Their phonics screen pass rate is hovering around the 85%. If some schools get 100%, shouldn’t all schools get it?

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Therealslimshady1 Mon 06-Nov-17 06:56:49

I had a child who was unable to learn through the phonics method

Can it really have a 100% success rate?


WinterHasRuinedMyFace Mon 06-Nov-17 07:05:11

I wrote in our reading record "I'm not sure what we're meant to do with this book - the words are too complex to be decoded at this stage, but the story is far to simple to be of interest for me to read to dd "

I know that the reading books that are sent home are outdated. Our school also uses bug club for online stories, these do match the phonics teaching. I'd prefer we had decent stories to "share" and just used the bug club books for actual reading, but we are where we are!

Norestformrz Mon 06-Nov-17 07:06:29

Many schools are achieving 100% success year on year. Realistically some children with severe learning needs will be unable to learn to read whatever the method.

Morewashingtodo Mon 06-Nov-17 07:15:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

junebirthdaygirl Mon 06-Nov-17 07:37:15

Think how you would feel if absolutely everything you do in your class is not up to the minute stuff and a parent pulls you up on it. Im sure your students are not all achieving 100% so how are you going to justify that. You said the teacher is good so leave her off. Im sure no one will end up illiterate because of a bad book here and there. I am an older teacher and literally taught a whole town ( infant teacher in only school) to read using combined method in the olden days. Say nothing!!

ICJump Mon 06-Nov-17 07:47:36

Thanks for the SPeld links. DS is in kindergarten and isn’t hitting the reading level they’d like for the end of the year.

Kokeshi123 Mon 06-Nov-17 11:17:36

"You said the teacher is good so leave her off. Im sure no one will end up illiterate because of a bad book here and there."

It sounds like this is a load of books, not a one-off. I am sure the teacher works hard, but teaching is supposed to be a professional job, like being a dentist etc. It's not unreasonable to say that professionals should use evidence-based methods rather than slopping through and saying "Well, most of the kids'll probably be alright!"

Kokeshi123 Mon 06-Nov-17 11:18:34

Those SPELD books are really good and it's nice to have free resources. The pictures are little basic as this is a free service provided by the creators out of their own kindness, but the phonics are great. You can also make a donation to the site if you appreciate the resources.

MidniteScribbler Mon 06-Nov-17 12:26:31

It sounds like this is a load of books, not a one-off. I am sure the teacher works hard, but teaching is supposed to be a professional job, like being a dentist etc. It's not unreasonable to say that professionals should use evidence-based methods rather than slopping through and saying "Well, most of the kids'll probably be alright!"

Unlike dentists, teachers often have to buy their tools out of their own pockets. I would love to have a full classroom set of decodable books that I could send home with my students. But I don't have a school provided set, and no matter how much I ask, the funds just aren't there to buy more right now (although the are fundraising for this purpose).

There are however, thousands of PM and other reading program books available in my school. So, do I send home a PM book so the child gets read to, or has a go at the book, or do I send nothing home and have a long line of parents (who are mostly from EAL backgrounds and have never heard of phonics or the phrase 'decodable books') standing in my classroom demanding to know why I'm not sending reading books home?

grasspigeons Mon 06-Nov-17 13:30:33

my sons first school taught phonics really badly, and only had guess what is going on here books. they were taught to look at the pictures and shape of words and were given long lists of tricky words to learn by site, they send home 'word shape snap and bingo'

they said he had special needs because he didn'

I'm at the point where I don't care that it costs a lot to replace books. as far as I can see the main purpose of school is to teach reading so the PTA and school business manager will have to work together and buy books.

I'm thoroughly unimpressed with teaching phonics alongside undecodable books for that stage

what is the point of learning SATPIN and getting books saying
I like knights, i like swords, I like shields, I like dragons, I like castles and teaching a kid to spot the pattern of I like and guess the other word.

Jumpingshipquick Mon 06-Nov-17 18:23:59

I know I should leave well alone, and I know one teacher will never be able to keep all 62 parents happy, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a teacher to be professional enough to at least attempt best practice (which is in this case at least pretty clear cut).

I have tried the note in the diary, but she tried to justify the lack of decodable books rather than tell me there just wasn’t enough money (which I would have been able to accept).

It just doesn’t seem fair that my kids will be alright because I am informed enough to pick and chose the right books, but there are other kids in the class held back. The idealist in me finds it hard to let it go. It’s just so obvious what they need to do to make a difference to outcomes.

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Jumpingshipquick Mon 06-Nov-17 18:24:36

I feel your pain pigeons!!

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Jumpingshipquick Mon 06-Nov-17 18:30:25

Midnight that sounds very frustrating! What’s the school phonics screen pass rate? Can you not hound the ht and governors with the promise of better results? (Then even if results don’t go up, at least you’ll have your books!!)

I have bought Dd phonics books, and I will donate when we’re done. Maybe I’ll ask if she can use those in school instead

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Feenie Mon 06-Nov-17 20:11:58

Midnite is in Australia, I believe.

You're right, OP, this is the statutory curriculum - it isn't optional.

raptorclaw Mon 06-Nov-17 21:28:47

What don't you just buy your school a new set of books? It will save the teachers having to buy all the resources themselves like they usually have to.

raptorclaw Mon 06-Nov-17 21:31:28

I'm also really pleased that you've found a cure for all special needs so that schools will be able to get their pass rates up. Please share it with the rest of us.

MidniteScribbler Mon 06-Nov-17 21:43:29

Yes I'm in Australia and phonics education is not as embedded as it seems to be in the UK (yet). We are a brand new school, and phonics is our whole school focus at the moment, so it's a steep learning curve for everyone. In addition, we have students from many different schools that have transferred, so they have many different backgrounds in their own phonics education (from those who have had intensive phonics education to those who have never heard of it before), with about 75% EAL in the cohort.

Our principal is on board and would go out tomorrow and buy us 100 sets of decodable books if she could, but unless the money is there, then it's just not there. We're fundraising, and we will get there, but it's a process. Parents who would like to see us get the decodable books faster are more than welcome to volunteer to assist with the fundraising, or we have a group of parents who are in at the school today (it's a public holiday here) printing and stapling together the SPELD books to give us some more to use until we get more sets.

Jumpingshipquick Mon 06-Nov-17 23:06:40

Sounds an exciting and pretty intense time midnite. Best of luck

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Jumpingshipquick Mon 06-Nov-17 23:09:32

But feenie am I not right in thinking academies don’t have to follow the national curriculum?

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