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This is a MUST WATCH video of IFERI committee members giving evidence in Scotland - but relevant internationally

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:37 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
This is fantastic video footage of IFERI founding committee members, Anne Glennie and Gordon Askew - alongside Dr Sarah McGeown - providing evidence for an official inquiry in Scotland on November 9th, 2017. The evidence provided is extremely compelling.

I describe this as a MUST WATCH video because the evidence provided probably has relevance across the English-speaking world - and where English is taught as an additional language. ...

Anne Glennie initiated a petition in Scotland calling for evidence-informed teacher-training for reading instruction to include, specifically, systematic synthetic phonics.

Below is the link to further information about the scenario in Scotland:


Re: This is a MUST WATCH video of IFERI committee members giving evidence in Scotland - but relevant internationally

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:45 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
This article I have written for Headteacher Update is very pertinent and its publication timely following immediately after Anne Glennie's petition hearing in Scotland and the current growing criticism of rolling out a phonics check in Australia - again, this issue of teacher-training has international relevance: ... ht/164571/

Literacy: A moral right

by Debbie Hepplewhite

Nov 2017

In a challenging article, literacy expert Debbie Hepplewhite bemoans the conflicting and often strongly held views on how we should teach children to read – and calls for the moral rights of the child to be placed above the professional rights of the teacher

Do teachers share the same professional understanding of phonics provision and reading instruction? No.

This is what I note in every context nationally and internationally (through wider reading, first-hand observations in schools and of video footage, via forums, blogs, networks and the media). Does this matter? Yes, it certainly does.

Re: This is a MUST WATCH video of IFERI committee members giving evidence in Scotland - but relevant internationally

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:47 am
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Here is the official transcript of the hearing, see page 25: ... ScotParlOR

Literacy Standards (Schools) (PE1668)

The Convener:
Under agenda item 2, we have one new petition for consideration. PE1668, by Anne Glennie, is on improving literacy standards in schools through research-informed reading instruction. Two written submissions in support of the petition, from Dr Marlynne Grant and Dr Sarah McGeown, are included with our papers.

I welcome Anne Glennie to the meeting along with Dr McGeown, who is a senior lecturer in development psychology from the University of Edinburgh, and Gordon Askew MBE from the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction. You may make a brief opening statement of up to five minutes, after which the committee will ask a few questions to help inform our consideration of the petition.

Here is the very sensible and encouraging summing up of the hearing:

The Convener:
Thank you very much. That has been really interesting. My recollection is that, pre-2011, the Labour Party had a commission on literacy. It was headed up by Rhona Brankin and it talked about synthetic phonics, which was accepted by the Scottish Government at the time—I think that Mike Russell was the education minister. It is an issue that there has been a conversation on.

I sit on the Education and Skills Committee, which had an evidence session with a group of people who are in initial teacher education. They were concerned about the level of support they had in learning literacy and numeracy. That was very much a concern. It is an issue that people are alive to, and I think that members have found your presentation very interesting.

What should we do in terms of taking the petition forward?

Angus MacDonald:
Following your comment about the work that Rhona Brankin’s team did, convener, it is worth pointing out that, in 2010, Mike Russell, who was the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning at the time, said:

“I agree that synthetic phonics has had considerable success.”—[Official Report, 7 January 2010; c 22562.]

If synthetic phonics was considered to have had considerable success way back in 2010, why has it not moved forward and become more commonplace?

The petitioners have made a very compelling case for synthetic phonics, particularly with regard to the evidence that children from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from it. I think that we need to go back to the Scottish Government and ask what its current view is. We should also seek the opinion of the Educational Institute of Scotland and the GTC in Scotland.

The Convener:
The opinions of the EIS, the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers and other unions would also be useful.

Brian Whittle:
If we write to the Scottish Government, we will get a generic response, and the petitioner has indicated that she has already received a response from the cabinet secretary. If we are going to ask the question, perhaps we should ask it in reference to those comments from 2010.

Angus MacDonald:

Yes, and we could include in the letter the evidence that we have heard today about there being a particular benefit to children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Michelle Ballantyne:

Could we also ask for the evidence against using and embedding synthetic phonics? There seems to be a suggestion that there is resistance from the cabinet secretary, and I would like to know what that is based on.

The Convener:
The argument seems to be about autonomy in curriculum for excellence. However, that is autonomy in the context of professional responsibility and understanding; it is not completely random in that it allows teachers to do whatever they like, and I do not think any teacher would argue that that is what autonomy means. It feels as though the cabinet secretary’s letter suggests that, but we can always explore that issue.

Michelle Ballantyne:
There is also the issue—it was briefly mentioned by the petitioners—that, if those who deliver teacher training do not know how to do synthetic phonics, they cannot teach it. Some resistance might come from that. I think that we should explore that with the cabinet secretary as well.

Gordon Askew:
Could I respectfully make a suggestion, convener? It might not be your way forward, but it might be for the future. Dissemination of good practice is more effective than imposing something on people. You might identify people who are already using synthetic phonics well and get them to share their practice with other schools, so that the practice is communicated from school to school rather than from the top down.

The Convener:
The issue is partly about confidence. I am struck by the fact that we now have a strategy for teaching children to learn reading that enhances the opportunities for those who are already advantaged because they have those skills—a mechanistic approach that affords the opportunity to learn from the other stuff. I find it compelling that we have strategies that are based on existing success, not on understanding the disadvantage that some young people face.

I do not know whether there are other educationalists in Scotland, particularly in the colleges and universities, who are providing initial teacher education and who have a view on the matter. That may be something else that we could explore.

Thank you very much for your attendance today. That was a very interesting evidence session, and it will be useful to explore why there are concerns about something that appears logical. I think that that is how we would want to take the petition forward.

Re: This is a MUST WATCH video of IFERI committee members giving evidence in Scotland - but relevant internationally

Posted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:34 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Here is the official response of the General Teaching Council for Scotland to Anne's petition: ... 1668_C.pdf

Re: This is a MUST WATCH video of IFERI committee members giving evidence in Scotland - but relevant internationally

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:34 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
The 2016 PIRLS results show that England has risen in the ranks for reading. Twitter is alive with this news at the moment on the eve of Australia deciding whether to implement a phonics check or not.

And, at the same time, Anne Glennie's petition and hearing in Scotland leaves many anxious to see the direction of travel of officials and educationalists in Scotland. A teacher from Scotland appeals to John Swinney to 'read with an open mind':

She tweeted:

Phonics revolution: Reading standards in England are best in a generation, new international test results show Please, please read with an open mind @JohnSwinney We need SSP in Scotland literacy rich environments in schools. #closethegap

Here is the link to the thread about the PIRLS results:


Re: This is a MUST WATCH video of IFERI committee members giving evidence in Scotland - but relevant internationally

Posted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:55 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Anne writes an outstanding piece for the TESS.

No-one could argue with what she has written here but people in great educational and political authority do keep arguing with her points or fail to respond at all. They simply demonstrate their own lack of professional knowledge and understanding by doing so - but it is teachers and children in Scotland who are suffering because of this:


And here is an excellent piece Anne wrote for the NATE 'Primary Matters' magazine: ... GLENIE.pdf

A Journey to the Dark Side:

from Phonics Phobic to Phonics Fanatic

Re: This is a MUST WATCH video of IFERI committee members giving evidence in Scotland - but relevant internationally

Posted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:36 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Developments in Scotland: ... ce=twitter

Opposition calls for Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy return

Re: This is a MUST WATCH video of IFERI committee members giving evidence in Scotland - but relevant internationally

Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:29 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Here is a shortened version of an article that appeared in the Scottish version of TES (TESS):

Many new primary teachers lack confidence in teaching 3Rs

Emma Seith
5th January 2018 ... aching-3rs

Many primary NQTs in Scotland lack the skills to support reading development effectively

A large minority of new primary teachers in Scotland cannot say they are confident in their ability to teach key areas of the curriculum such as maths, reading and writing, new research suggests.

The Scottish government has found that many primary probationers lack confidence in teaching literacy and numeracy. Secondary probationers generally feel more confident in literacy in their subject, but have a similar lack of confidence in numeracy.

The area that probationer teachers are least confident in is data literacy – using data to improve practice or to track learner progress.

Developing resources is also “problematic” for probationer teachers, who find it hard to create “differentiated resources to meet the needs of all learners”, the study shows. And the teachers responsible for supporting probationers – referred to in the report as “probationer supporters” – highlighted probationers’ ability to teach reading and phonics as “an area of concern”.

The report said: “Probationer supporters felt that the probationer teachers lacked the knowledge and skills to be able to support children’s reading development effectively.”

And don't forget that Anne Glennie has found that it is not only probationer teachers who lack confidence, knowledge and skills in teaching foundational literacy (including phonics).

Re: This is a MUST WATCH video of IFERI committee members giving evidence in Scotland - but relevant internationally

Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:08 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
More disquiet re the 'learning through play' agenda described in The Herald, Scotland:

Teachers warn learning through play can lead to pupil disruption

Andrew Denholm ... ref=twtrec

MODERN teaching techniques where pupils are allowed to learn through play can lead to poor behaviour, a new report warns.

So called active learning - where pupils are also encouraged to work in groups or teach each other - have also been blamed for a lack of focus in secondary school when pupils sit exams.

The warning comes in a report by Ipsos MORI Scotland following a survey of teachers' attitudes towards behaviour in primary and secondary schools, commissioned by the Scottish Governmen

The readers' comments are interesting too.

Re: This is a MUST WATCH video of IFERI committee members giving evidence in Scotland - but relevant internationally

Posted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:49 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite ... asy-books/

Scottish teenagers ‘lag behind’ in reading and choose easy books

By Chris Green