Tuesday, 20 November 2018

GTC Scotland do not have a policy position on reading

 The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) held its second `Excellence in Professional Learning Awards` in September. It looks like they are here congratulating practitioners for `nurturing North Ayrshire`. It`s a pity they pay so much attention to how practitioners `nurture` and yet do not give much attention to how teachers are taught to instruct learners to read.  

Given the focus in Scotland on `adverse childhood experiences` (ACEs) one thing seems to be overlooked: a lifelong inability to read is one of the most devastating experiences a child could possible undergo; and yet, as the Clackmannanshire study has shown, is well within the grasp of primary teachers to do something about. Yet as the GTCS reveals there still remains a cavalier approach to the teaching of reading.
Here is an important tweet  from Anne Glennie, Scottish primary teacher and literacy consultant and trainer, who quotes:
"GTC Scotland would like to advise its readers that it does not hold a policy position on teaching children to read. We aim to publish a wide range of articles in `Teaching Scotland` offering different viewpoints. This is to inform our readers about current practice in education. Publication of a particular point of view does not mean that we endorse it."
There are several comments following the tweet:

"What is the point of the GTC in that case?"
"GTCS functions include: Setting the Professional standards expected of all teachers."
"Accrediting programmes leading to the award of GTCS Standards, including Initial Teacher Education programmes at Scottish universities."
"How can they hold teachers in Scotland to professional standards but not hold policy positions on the science behind reading?"
Debbie Hepplewhite Retweeted Anne Glennie
"This is utterly unaccountable - extraordinary - unforgivable. What have 'views' to do with the science of reading instruction? Such irony as the Clackmannanshire research is important - supported a move in England towards official systematic synthetic phonics."


The letter from Alison Taylor that prompted the GTC announcement that they do not have a policy position on teaching reading is here:

"Dear Editor, 
I was disturbed to see an article in Teaching Scotland no 75 about Reading Recovery. This `intervention` has been withdrawn in many English speaking countries because it does not tackle the core of the literacy problem, and yet here in Scotland we are promoting it."

"To Raise Attainment for All and Close the Gap, Scotland must improve the teaching of beginner readers, so it is essential to educate all our primary teachers in the science behind reading and evidence based methods to use. We are not taught the complexities of the English Alphabetic Code at university so can end up using a mixture of effective and ineffective approaches."

"About 21 months ago I was introduced by Anne Glennie `The Learning Zoo to teaching decoding through systematic synthetic phonics (SSP)` which is part of the Big Five for teaching literacy. This started my reading journey of the science behind reading. In the schools I work in, we now use evidence based methods to teach literacy, both universally and for PEP interventions. This has had a huge positive impact on developing the literacy skills of our pupils."

"In my experience many pupils are included in intervention groups (such as Reading Recovery) that encourage pupils to `guess` words using multi-cueing (use the picture, first sound or context clues - when what they really need is systematic and explicit teaching of the Alphabetic Code from simple to complex code. They then require practice, little and often, in decoding and encoding using the letters and sounds. Schools need decodable books as a resource to do this. Many schools teach phonics but do not have this vital resource to enable children to practise the letters and sounds they are learning. All beginner readers need to be taught the same skills and knowledge. Some children including those with `dyslexia` need lots of extra practice to retain their learning of sound to print."

"Many poor readers are relying on memorising words for decoding and have no other strategy to use when they come across new words. Teach them to decode using SSP and they have skills and knowledge that will stay with them forever. Get them to practise to mastery and we help all pupils. `Reading` is a life skill and we must not let the children in Scotland down. Let`s get it right from the start."

Last year`s ceremony:

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