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Alison Clarke reviews BBC documentary 'B is for Book': via her post 'THIS is a BORING book!'

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:05 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Alison Clarke is a remarkable, international, pioneering advocate for evidence-informed reading instruction.

She has written many outstanding, detailed, referenced posts via her multi-purpose blog 'Spelfabet'. Alison provides some of her own practical resources but also lists and promotes the work and phonics/literacy programmes of other people from around the world.

I urge anyone involved in teaching children to read, training teachers, and parents/carers of children learning to read, to check out Alison's site.

The link below features a detailed analysis of a BBC documentary broadcast in 2016. When I first saw this BBC documentary I was utterly horrified by the example of flawed teaching that it revealed (but that was not the understanding or intent of the makers) and, at that time, I started a thread via IFERI to alert people to the underlying events of the programme - which were not what the innocent viewer might have noticed or understood but which epitomised the deep-rooted problem we have, to this day, of lack of shared professional understanding of how best to teach reading - and of how best children can practise their reading when beginners or strugglers.

The BBC documentary actually, inadvertently, lays bare 'in plain sight' how damaging flawed teaching, and practising, methods can be for so many children.

I've linked to Alison's review of the BBC documentary on my original post - but I also wanted to flag up Alison's hard work via this new post which I shall 'pin' as it is so important and accessible to read:

THIS is a BORING book! ... ring-book/

I’ve just watched a great 2016 BBC4 documentary called “B is for book”. It follows a group of London children from their first day at school for a year, and explores how they learn to read.

The kids live on a public housing estate in Hackney, and most speak languages other than English at home.

The film is not currently on the BBC website, but a few people have put it on YouTube. The version I watched is here, and you might like to keep it open in a new tab while you read, so you can quickly find and watch the interesting bits I describe below.

You’ll love all the children, but I was most entranced by a little boy called Stephan. An honest child with a low tolerance for Educrap, he looks and behaves a lot like a little boy I worked with last year, also a twin from public housing inclined to slide under the table.

[Updated link provided by Susan Godsland] ... e=emb_logo

Re: Alison Clarke reviews BBC documentary 'B is for Book': via her post 'This is a BORING book!'

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:31 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Here is the post I made back in 2016 flagging up the evidence as to what some flawed, mixed methods teaching actually looks like. It includes responses from other people who had serious worries about what the programme, inadvertently, revealed:

BBC documentary on reading: 'B is for Book'. Why is this worrying?


You will see heartwarming footage but, from IFERI's perspective, you will also some heart-wrenching footage.

This is because there are indications in the video of children being taught by mixed methods - some of which will be damaging to at least some children - and we do see some children struggling with the eclectic approach taken by the school combined with parents given the responsibility of support at home with what looks like the wrong kind of guidance from the school (or perhaps no guidance from the school).

We see indications of practices that are clearly warned about in the findings of extensive research on reading.

Re: Alison Clarke reviews BBC documentary 'B is for Book': via her post 'THIS is a BORING book!'

Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:18 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
This is an update on the issue of teachers being provided with different and contradictory messages about how to teach and remediate reading.

Please follow-through on this thread here:

Where do we witness 'Orwellian Double Guidance' for teachers and parents?


Systematic synthetic phonics provision mixed with multi-cueing word-guessing - and asking children TO READ ALOUD books that they cannot, in effect, 'read' without resorting to guessing their way through the book IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

So, systematic synthetic phonics provision with multi-cueing word-guessing does not amount to 'systematic synthetic phonics provision', this is 'mixed methods' - NOT SSP!

The video footage of 'B is for Book' is a good example of this mixture (an eclectic approach) - and the effect on children - and how this is not professional understanding informed by the body of research on reading.

Re: Alison Clarke reviews BBC documentary 'B is for Book': via her post 'THIS is a BORING book!'

Posted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:34 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Thank you to Olwyn who has suggested the addition below to the thread. I'll also post it on the 'Around the World: News and Events' forum!

An addition to this thread, if I may,

Thought you might like this link to a radio interview between Profs Chapman and McNaughton.

Things in NZ seem to be moving in a positive direction: ... ch-reading