In his 2006 report, Sir Jim Rose said, 'The indications are that, when children do not get a really good start, they are likely to need interventions to enable them to 'catch up' and 'recover' ground that they should not have lost in the first place (Rose 2006.para 100) In the same report, Sir Jim Rose recommended that additional support in ALL the 'waves' of intervention should be fully compatible with mainstream practice (high quality, systematic synthetic phonics taught discretely) (Rose Review 2006 p70)) and he rightly rejected the NLS multi-cueing strategies. Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary at the time, accepted all the Rose report's recommendations and said she would ensure they were implemented (Kelly response to interim report 30/11/05) The DfES (now DfE) followed up by stating that, 'High-quality phonic work, as defined by the Rose review, should be a key feature of literacy provision in all the ‘waves’ of intervention' (DfES 2007 PNS)
Your Options -and what to avoid:
1. Rely on 'in school' support which presently, due to the wide-spread
lack of knowledge or dismissal of the most effective way to remediate reading difficulties,
usually amounts to no more than the student being asked to memorise lists of high frequency 'sight' words and working through the book levels of a non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme (see below) in pairs or small groups with a teaching assistant (TA).
Parents should be aware that, in most state schools, children struggling with reading are likely to be placed with a TA for literacy support. In fact, the more severe their difficulties the more likely that they will be taken out of class and taught by a TA whilst their classmates remain in the classroom and are taught by the teacher. 'There has been a drift towards TAs becoming, in effect, the primary educators of lower-attaining pupils and those with SEN' (TeachPrimary.issue 6.3.p13).
A five year study (Diss: Deployment and impact of support staff) found that there was a consistent negative relationship between the amount of TA support a pupil received and the pupil's progress. This was found across primary and secondary years. A primary teacher comments, ''(T)he slower learners and those with often complicated special needs are "taught" maths and English in small groups or individually by untrained (but very well meaning) classroom assistants leaving the rest with the teacher. It has always struck me as a paradox that the most needy are taught by (with the greatest of respect) the least capable staff''. Note, this is not a clear cut issue as there are schools with TAs who are highly effective at teaching struggling readers because they are fully trained literacy specialists and very capable of delivering a high quality synthetic phonics intervention programme.
Pupils with special needs ‘separated’ from teachers and peers
For discussion and information on teaching struggling readers at the secondary stage - see teenagers.
In a 2009 speech, Sir Jim Rose confirmed what leading UK and International reading experts had said all along, that Reading Recovery (RR) is 'a multi-cueing, non-systematic approach' (Rose. Presentation to Speld). Despite RR being way out of line with the 2006 Rose report recommendations and despite their earlier promises (see above), inexplicably, the then DCSF continued to encourage and fund schools to use RR as a Wave 3 intervention for Y1 children, AND recommended that they 'layer' RR with a range of other whole language interventions, all found under the Every Child a Reader (ECaR) mantle. In this way the then DCSF continued to endorse whole language and effectively ensured that the multi-cueing strategies became institutionalised in many schools.
''Our results also showed that whilst almost half of the ex-Reading Recovery students we studied, fell within the average band, 45% were classified as well below average''
''RR pupils may neither close the gap with their peers nor develop more advanced reading skills than other poor readers''
Small Bangs for Big Bucks: The long term efficacy of Reading Recovery
''My eight and nine-year-old learners, and many others like them, send a clear message to parents of struggling learners: Reading Recovery may not be the intervention your child needs''
Dr. Singleton was a key contributor to the now archived, DCSF-commissioned, Rose report on Dyslexia (Rose. 2009). On the subject of Reading Recovery, he said, ''Only 12%–15% of Reading Recovery children completing their programmes between 2003 and 2007 achieved a Level 2a or above in Key Stage 1 Reading National Curriculum assessments, the level at which children can tackle unfamiliar words and have therefore developed a self-sustaining word recognition system'' (Singleton 2009 p11)
Singleton also pointed out that Reading Recovery measured children's progress using the BAS-II word reading test; 6yrs.7mths ''was the average reading age of only those children who responded well to Reading Recovery''. Singleton added that a child can achieve a RA of 6.7 on BAS-II ''with knowledge of only a few words'' as ''only 21 words on the test have to be read correctly, which can be easily achieved by a child who has memorised some very high frequency common words (e.g.the,up,you,at,said,out) and knows and can use single letter sounds, plus the simple digraphs 'sh' and 'th'' (Singleton p117)
Parliament's all-party Science and Technology committee also questioned the use of Reading Recovery (and other whole language intervention programmes -see below):
Dec 2009. Evidence Check on Early Literacy Interventions http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/44/4405.htm
Having checked all the evidence, the committee said: ''Teaching children to read is one of the most important things the State does. The Government has accepted Sir Jim Rose's recommendation that systematic phonics should be at the heart of the Government's strategy for teaching children to read. This is in conflict with the continuing practice of word memorisation and other teaching practices from the 'whole language theory of reading' used particularly in Wave 3 Reading Recovery. The Government should vigorously review these practices with the objective of ensuring that Reading Recovery complies with its policy''.
In 2011 the formerly ring-fenced ECaR funding was incorporated into the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). This means that schools can continue to choose to use ineffective, non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programmes with their struggling readers. Most schools using Reading Recovery previous to the funding change have simply moved to 'cheaper to implement' close copies of RR (see below), if they weren't already using them as part of the ECaR 'layered approach' http://readingrecovery.ioe.ac.uk/documents/Layered_approach.pdf
What works for pupils with literacy difficulties: the effectiveness of intervention schemes.
Greg Brooks. Pub. The Dyslexia-SpLD Trust. 4th edition. 2013 http://www.interventionsforliteracy.org.uk/widgets_GregBrooks/What_works_for_children_fourth_ed.pdf
This publication, ''is a comparison of a collection of self reported studies on programmes used to remediate reading difficulties. There is no control over the quality of the research or the accuracy of the data. Inclusion of 'studies' is completely random, depending as it does, on the right people seeing the right 'evidence call' in the right publications, at the right moment'' (maizieD)
Better Reading Partnership (BRP) is a Wave 2 non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme. It was, ''developed by Bradford Local Education Authority (LEA) in 1996 and is based on the Reading Recovery Programme''...''The reading partner notes the child's use of the three BRP reading strategies: grapho-phonic (visual), syntactic (structure) and semantic (meaning). Weaknesses are addressed through prompts: "Does that look right?", "Does that sound right?", and "Does that make sense?" (Dunford.LiteracyTrust)
Catch Up Literacy is a Wave 3, non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme. www.catchup.org
Dee Reid, 'the lead literacy consultant to Catch Up', gives the following advice to the mum of a struggling reader age 10:
''If Jayden gets stuck on a word, tell him what the word is and then ask him to repeat it. Give him a clue to remind him how to remember the word next time, e.g. ‘It’s in the picture’ or ‘Look at the letters at the beginning’' (Catch Up Newsletter Sept 2011)
The Australian brochure makes it clear that Catch Up Literacy is a Reading Recovery clone: ''Makes use of all ‘recommended’ teaching approaches. Whole language approach covering reading, writing, spelling and handwriting, Complements ‘Reading Recovery’(enabling pupils to gain support in later years)''
OUP's Project X CODE intervention programme (for Y2-4 Wave 2).
With its simplistic 'embedded' phonics content, miscue analysis assessment, inclusion of pseudo words (some with illegal spellings) and highly illustrated, text-LITE readers, some cynics would say CODE seems to have been deliberately designed to appeal to SENCos and teachers who prefer mixed methods (and certainly don't understand synthetic phonics) but need an intervention with a superficial synthetic phonics 'gloss' in order to satisfy Ofsted when they next come visiting. CODE is not included in the DfE's synthetic phonics match-funding catalogue, perhaps because it doesn't meet the independent assessors' criteria for a systematic synthetic phonics programme.
Having examined the Project X CODE materials, a leading synthetic phonics expert remarked that, 'the phonics is much too simple and slowly taught and loads of time is wasted on comprehension for children whose language comprehension is fine'.
According to OUP, ''Project X CODE was trialled with 61 children in Years 1 to 4 in 11 schools in 8 local authorities in 2012. After only 2½ months of support, they had made an average of 8 months of progress on a standardised reading test''
This research was critiqued by Prof. McGuinness. She said, ''The so-called "research results" from this project are a sham'' http://www.rrf.org.uk/messageforum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5467
Despite excluding CODE from its own catalogue, the DfE recently (Oct. '12) approved CODE's use as part of the 'Reading Support' initiative https://readingsupport.edgehill.ac.uk/erc-for-schools/what-is-rs-2/ The Reading Support initiative is a financial tie-up between the DfE, Edge Hill University (who will be providing training) and ''the Institute of Education for Reading Recovery''. Caution -don't confuse CODE with Project X Phonics, which IS in the DfE match-funding catalogue.
Pearson-Heinemann's 'Rapid Reading' is a KS2 Wave 3, non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme.
The series editors, Dee Reid and Diana Bentley, also devised the 'Catch Up Literacy' programme -see above.
Caution -do not confuse Rapid Reading with Pearson's Rapid Phonics intervention programme
http://www.readingquest.org.uk/ ''Reading Quest is inspired by Marie Clay’s Reading Recovery programme''
Fischer Family Trust (FFT) Wave 3. www.fischertrust.org/lit_wave_3.aspx is another non-systematic, multi-cueing intervention programme based on Reading Recovery principles.
2. Obtain a statement. Children
with less severe learning difficulties (presently 'school action' or 'school action plus') receive 'in school'
help for their difficulties with funding from the school budget.
The only way to get extra LEA funding for
more specialist help is to obtain a 'statement'. This is a
document that sets out a child's needs and all the extra help
he or she should get. Statements for 'dyslexia' are notoriously
difficult to obtain and the experience of trying to obtain
one can be extremely stressful, time consuming and expensive. It is the content of the statement which is important. By
law, the content must be "specific, detailed and quantified".
Unless it specifies the use of a synthetic/linguistic phonics reading programme (see programmes) and there are fully trained and literate personnel ready, able and willing to deliver the specified content one-to-one, the statement
will be of no use whatsoever..
N.B. From 2014, 'the two most common categories of special needs - “school action” and “school action plus”, which are usually diagnosed in-house by teachers - will be scrapped and replaced with a single grouping' (Telegraph 15/05/12). Statements will disappear, to be replaced by a single assessment process and an Education, Health and Care Plan.
3. Only for the wealthy, or for the few who can obtain a grant
- an independent school with specialist 'dyslexia' teaching. This often involves the child boarding,
which can be an extra trauma for an already unhappy child,
and there is NO guarantee that the school will use the most
effective remedial method (a high quality, synthetic phonic intervention programme) to teach reading. Some of the methods used to teach reading in these schools are best described as 'quirky'. www.rrf.org.uk/messageforum/viewtopic.php?t=3432
Note that, ''Brooks (2007) has described ratio gains of between 1.4 and 2.0 as having ‘small impact’ and being ‘of modest educational significance’; ratio gains less than 1.4 he classes as being of ‘very small impact’ and ‘of doubtful educational significance’. On this basis all the results reported from studies in UK specialist [dyslexia] schools and teaching centres would be regarded as disappointing (or even disregarded altogether), since the largest ratio gain was only 2.0 (except at Moon Hall School [which uses a programme similar to the Sound Reading System]'' (italics added. Singleton p74)
4. Home education, possibly on a short-term basis only, whilst
parents and/or a tutor concentrate on remediating the literacy
problems -alongside a basic curriculum with activities that enthuse your child and restore their self-esteem- see UK Home Education.
5. Use an alternative therapy on the basis of personal anecdote/s. Note, 'Testimonials are the number one tool of choice for those who do not have evidence' (Guy Chapman.Guardian comment) Alternative therapies for reading difficulties / dyslexia, ''generally have a weak (or non-existent) evidence base and poor efficacy, and often rely on the superficial attractiveness of a promised instant (and comparatively effortless) ‘cure’' (Singleton p22) Whilst alternative therapies for 'dyslexia' are unlikely to be harmful in their own right, they might pose a risk if science-based interventions with solid evidence of efficacy were delayed in their favour. Alternative therapies are usually expensive and may use up limited family income that would be better spent on a 1-1 literacy intervention, with empirical evidence of effectiveness, from the start - See Room 101: Fad, fraud and folly in 'dyslexia' and the teaching of reading.
6. Privately arranged specialist tuition. Carefully chosen remedial reading tuition can be the solution
if it can be afforded, and as long as the child is happy to
attend. For school-attending
children, specialist tuition can take place legally off the school premises during
school hours, at the discretion of the school, as an 'Approved educational activity off-site'. For the youngest children, 6-7 yr. olds, this is really essential as they are far too tired after school. Parents should approach the school in a spirit of co-operation and negotiate a mutually agreeable time to withdraw their child for tuition. It is, after all, in the school's interest to have their pupils able to read and write effectively.
In law it is always the PARENTS' duty to provide a SUITABLE education for their children, including catering for any special needs (Education Act 1996 Section 7). Normally parents delegate this duty to a school. If parents believe that the school is failing to provide their child with a 'suitable' education then the parents are obliged to do something about it. They would be acting irresponsibly if they didn't do so. By arranging specialist tuition during school hours, they are merely trying to fulfil their lawful duty by setting up what the school can't/won't provide. The school needs to have a very good reason to withhold consent - is the school able to provide equivalent tuition: a regular time, a quiet area for one-to-one, plus someone with expertise in using synthetic phonics remedially on the school premises, paid for by the school? Probably not! If the school refuses, then the parents should contact their LEA's SEN department and explain the situation.
A parent comments: 'The parents are stuck between a rock
and a hard place. A position I experienced when my child was
going through school.
THE ROCK. You want to do the best for your child and do what
you can at home to support them. You look for private tuition,
sit with them to do homework etc. However the child is often
very difficult because they don't want to do the extra lessons
at home, they don't want to do their reading etc. The constant
battle to get homework done or even getting them to school
etc creates a very stressful environment of arguments and
tantrums and can have a negative effect on your relationship
with the child and can affect other family members. The reason the child is being difficult
at home is because they find school a very stressful place where they're constantly
put under pressure to get work finished, struggling with reading, or are fighting
emotions where they've been told their work is just not good enough. They're very
much aware of their limitations when they compare themselves with their own peer
group. They often keep their emotions in check in school and vent their frustrations,
anger, upsets at home. The last thing they want is to come home and find it's a
continuation of school, more reading, more work etc.
HARD PLACE. When the homework, reading practise etc fails
to get done at home, you are viewed, by the school, as unsupportive
parents. If you go into the school asking for help etc. you
are viewed as "pushy parents"
(quote with permission
Important: If your child is receiving tuition using a synthetic/linguistic phonics intervention programme, in school or out, it is always beneficial, sometimes vital, in order for the programme to be fully effective, that your child is not confused by 'mixed messages' as a result of being expected to use a range of strategies (multi-cueing) to decode words at other times during the school day or during home reading practice.
Choosing a remedial reading tutor:
If you plan to use an independent tutor to help your child, then check the content and the time frame of the programme
that the tutor will provide, extremely carefully. A good intervention programme should take about 18-35 hours of one-to-one sessions (with equal home-work back-up time)
to remediate effectively. A few children, who have been left
very confused and damaged by whole-language reading practices,
may take a little longer, as may those with additional learning difficulties. Specialist programmes for 'dyslexia' (Orton-Gillingham based)
often take years to complete and leave many children still unable to
read properly. They should be avoided for your child's (and
bank account's) sake.
Make sure that the tutor uses a highly structured,
intensive, synthetic / linguistic phonic programme -see main
method 3 as the basis for their teaching. Avoid
any tutor who claims to 'tailor the lessons to a child's individual
learning style' or uses a programme which includes whole word memorising, multi-cueing (guessing) strategies or strange procedures such as spelling words backwards or drawing around words to create shapes - see What NOT to do. Also, don't hire a tutor who suggests that, in addition to tutoring, your child's reading difficulties would benefit from glasses with tinted lenses, vision training, balancing exercises or any other unfounded 'dyslexia' therapy....see Room 101
The chosen programme must work rapidly with positive advances
to the child's reading and writing skills being perceptible
to all involved - parent, child and tutor - within a short time. Furthermore, the tutor should, 'Involve the
parent... directly in homework so that she has a positive
role and can maintain gains between sessions and after sessions
have ended.' (D McGuinness WCCR
'Must read' article by an independent tutor N.B. This article is from 2002. Fiona Nevola went on to write her own linguistic phonics intervention programme, The Sound Reading System, based on the research of Prof. Diane McGuinness.
Can 20% of schoolchildren really have special needs?