May 2022 Ofsted review of English; April 2022 Solity's analysis of government policy

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May 2022 Ofsted review of English; April 2022 Solity's analysis of government policy

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite »

This is an interesting and important evidence-informed review by Ofsted (England's schools' inspectorate) and announced by Chief Inspector, Amanada Spielman, via Twitter.

I've added some comments, however, about the issue of beginners' book experience based on personal observations of developments in England which coincide with a question raised by Professor Jonathan Solity in a paper he has published:
Research and analysis

Curriculum research review series: English


Published 23 May 2022
https://iferi.org/iferi_forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1445

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Re: May 2022 Ofsted review of English announced by CI Amanda Spielman

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite »

Solity promotes the explicit teaching of a limited number of letter/s-sound correspondences, along with learning a specific list of common words, along with practising reading in storybooks rather than cumulative, decodable reading books designed specifically for children to practise reading with code knowledge they already know.

This is the paper he has published about developments in England over decades and questions he raises about the current context in England:
Instructional Psychology and Teaching Reading: An analysis of the evidence underpinning government policy and practice

Jonathan Solity

First published: 22 April 2022
https://bera-journals.onlinelibrary.wil ... /rev3.3349
Abstract

There have been few areas in England over the last 50 years where government has drawn more heavily on research to inform policy and practice than in the area of teaching reading. The focus of this article is an analysis of the research and evidence on early reading, in particular the role of phonics, on which government policy in England and the practice it promotes, are based. The article has three parts. The first examines the major policy initiatives in teaching reading from the Plowden Report in 1967 to the present day and provides an overview of their implications for practice. It highlights the tensions between opposing sides in the ‘reading wars’ between those prioritising phonics first, fast and only, versus those promoting a whole language approach to teaching reading. The second examines the evidence on which the government has drawn and the way in which teaching reading has become increasingly politicised in England to promote specific practices, some of which, but not all, are underpinned by research. Part 3 introduces instructional psychology that provides an alternative perspective on teaching phonics, whole language and the reading wars. The approaches to teaching reading generated by instructional psychology will be summarised and research presented to demonstrate how, despite the rhetoric surrounding the positive impact of current government policy on teaching reading, it is potentially a major cause of reading difficulties. Part 3 ends by highlighting the implications of instructional psychology for future policy and practice.
Context and implications

Rational for this study

England is unique in the English speaking world in having a strategy for teaching early reading that has been developed over time across the whole country. This article provides the first detailed analysis of the research that has informed policy and practice over the last 50 years that has led to the current focus on teaching reading through systematic synthetic phonics and decodable texts.

Why the new findings matter

Government recommended practice is vulnerable to being amended or replaced if not well grounded in research. The article identifies current policies and practice that are, and are not, supported by evidence in order that future practice builds on what has been learned in the past, rather than, like a pendulum, swings back to re-visit the debates that have dominated discussion, and been defined as, the reading wars. The article has not only identified what to teach but through the discussion on instructional psychology provided a possible explanation as to why certain methodologies are effective.

Implications for practitioners, policy makers, researchers

Long-standing debates about the most effective methods for teaching early reading have remained largely unresolved over the last 50 years. The analysis of research and practice discussed in this article, together with the description of instructional psychology, highlight one possible way of resolving the tension between advocates of teaching reading through phonics or whole language. This involves teaching a small number of the most frequently occurring and generalisable phonics skills in children's written English through real books rather than reading schemes. Such a position also raises a range of novel instructional questions that are best resolved through research rather than rhetoric.

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