Wednesday 15 June 2016

The Scottish Attainment Challenge

"The Attinment Scotland Fund is a targeted initiative focused on supporting pupils in the local authorities of Scotland with the highest concentrations of deprivation. The Challenge Authorities are currently Glasgow, Dundee, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire, North Ayrshire, Clackmannanshire and North Lanarkshire."
If what we are seeing is an example of a targeted initiative to improve literacy in deprived areas, then there is cause for concern: plenty of whole words, flash cards and parental involvement but no indication that children are directly instructed in the correspondence between letters and sounds. Children who come to school with limited vocabularies are not always able to grasp these connections intuitively.

To think that Clackmannanshire had sorted the problem out ten years ago ! What happened ?
"The dispute between advocates of whole language learning and the proponents of phonics instruction has plagued schools and education policy makers around the world for at least the last fifty years. The whole language approach has today been officially abandoned. Nonetheless, I suspect that the issue is still alive in many a teacher’s mind because whole language advocates are still firmly entrenched in their position. They are convinced that their approach is best suited to children’s needs."
"In France as well as in the United States, efforts to reconcile the two camps have led to the adoption of an unhealthy compromise called ‘mixed’ or ‘balanced reading’ instruction. The punch line is quite simple: We know that conversion of letters into sounds is the key state in reading acquisition. All teaching efforts should be initially focused on a single goal, the grasp of the alphabetic principle whereby each letter or grapheme represents a phoneme."

I think teacher training has a lot to do with this as well.

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