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September 21, 2018

Is there anyone out there whose heart does not sink at the thought of setting performance management objectives?Is there anyone who does not stare at the blank document and die a thousand silent deaths?  Is there anyone out there who thinks that the performance management process helps them to teach their children better and make them cleverer?  Is there anyone out there who knows how to make the system work…and that doesn’t mea...

September 1, 2018

By the late nineteenth century in the United States the vice-like grip of the whole-word method on initial reading instruction and the reliance on the McGuffy Reader was starting to diminish as the long-term effects of the method were starting to become evident.  Pupils made apparently huge initial strides in reading fluency in the early grades, but as Smith notes from a contemporary journal ‘…pupils in the higher grades are not...

April 29, 2018

Learning to read is only worthwhile if, firstly, there is something to read, secondly, the reading of that text is worthwhile and thirdly, that expenditure of time and effort reading that text provides utility to the reader.  To modern day citizens, immersed in a world of digital and physical text of such overwhelming quantities and scope that to deny oneself access to the written word would be culturally, socially and economica...

February 8, 2018

Research seems to conclude emphatically that ‘reading for pleasure’ has huge literacy-related, social and cultural benefits.  It apparently increases reading and writing attainment (OECD, 2000 and Krashen, 1993; Anderson et al, 1988; but also see Taylor et al., 1990); improves text comprehension and grammar (Cipielewski and Stanovich, 1992; Cox and Guthrie, 2001); improves vocabulary (Angelos and McGriff, 2002); improves general...

December 17, 2017

You want your students to go university.  Of course you do.  That's why you track them so carefully.  So what are you tracking?  Well, you track them against standardised scores and grade outcomes in the hope you can predict their SATs results and GCSE and A-level grades, but do you track their reading automaticity and fluency?

Thought not. 

In primary schools they track phonic competency until the end of year one (...

October 27, 2017

The phonics screening check at the end of Year 1 is arguably the most important assessment in primary education.  The ability to master the decoding of the English alphabetic code is fundamental to the development of reading automaticity and ultimately reading fluency and the phonics screening check assesses this mastery (NB phonics deniers and 'whole word' guessers please go away and read the research).

Well hold on a minut...

October 24, 2017

‘Once you learn to read you will be forever free,’ is the quotation by Frederick Douglass (2017, p1) that adorns numerous primary school libraries across England and who would disagree?  With 25% of young offenders having reading skills below that of the average seven-year-old and 60% of the prison population having literacy difficulties (Clark and Dugdale, 2008) the assertion might have more accurately quoted that an inability...

October 1, 2017

School-led school improvement?  Such a catchy title, such an enticing concept: great schools helping failing schools to improve.  The establishing of the Teaching School network and the academisation programme are entirely based on this delicious but fatally flawed abstraction.

But hold on one gold-darned minute  I hear you cry!  Who better to improve schools than those who operate within the system, who under...

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