Here's the irony, though, Dick.
In England, as you know, systematic synthetic phonics is now described, more or less, in the statutory national curriculum for English of Key Stages One and Two (the 5 to 11 year olds).
So, every school, even the 'Reading Recovery' schools like the one we see in the BBC documentary 'B is for Book', will be providing some degree of systematic phonics at least in Reception and Year One.
This means, in reality, Reading Recovery schools have a huge advantage by their dose of phonics provision even though they mix this with their prevailing 'reading strategies' amounting to lots of multi-cueing guessing.
This is going to make those schools more effective than they would have been in the past without the ingredient of systematic phonics.
This leaves the slowest-to-learn children very vulnerable. They do get phonics but they also get books to take home to read, or books to read in school, which REQUIRE multi-cueing guessing because they are not designed to practise the alphabetic code knowledge and blending skill to 'get through' those books.
This means some children, many, will struggle and become disillusioned and in danger of being turned off reading at an early stage.
We actually see this with some of the children in the 'B is for Book' documentary when a teacher asks a boy to read his book (whilst she takes copious notes which is typical Reading Recovery practice). We see a 'repetitive text' design of book and we see that the boy is disaffected from the get-go - and then he 'gets' the pattern of the book and just robotically repeats each page whilst changing the key word - according to the picture cue.
In contrast, such children should receive a book than enables him to look for code knowledge he has been taught (and learnt), and apply the sounding out and blending skill, as necessary, which should result in far more positive feelings about their capacity and self-perception 'as a reader'.
In other words, the Reading Recovery approach, and schools in England mixing systematic synthetic phonics but with multi-cueing reading strategies, will get better results, maybe even results which look 'good enough' in the Year One Phonics Screening Check - but there will be children like we see in the documentary who will have been failed in reality and may always be readers who look for cues to get them through the book - never developing a truly competent and automatic decoding technique with close attention to the details in the printed words. Of course as pictures disappear and texts become even more challenging, these children may stall out at a later age but parents and teachers of the older children may not be aware of the real reasons why.
The children who struggle the most with the mixed methods approach will be attributed to 'within child' issues - not the teaching method. The children who struggle the most may well have some challenges personal to them, but these are exacerbated by the mixed methods, multi-cueing guessing strategies approach and by being given books to read independently which they simply cannot read without guessing. The children KNOW that they are guessing and not really reading.
I've just read a wonderful little book written by extremely experienced teacher and tutor, Fran Tray, entitled, 'Clarry and the Little White Cloud - How Clarry learned to read'.
I'm adding it to our 'Research and recommended reading' forum because every parent, teacher and teacher-training - and TV producer - and politician should read this clever and powerful little book.
From a child's perspective and life/school experience, the message is strong - loud and clear - about the damage to children when they set off with wrong reading instruction methods and experiences.
Here is my review and information about 'Clarry and the Little White Cloud':viewtopic.php?f=4&t=632&p=1097#p1097