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Eng: Minister Nick Gibb routinely sends congratulatory letters to schools achieving very highly in the Y1 phonics check

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:35 am
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
I've started this thread to illustrate that Minister Nick Gibb, the politician who has done so much to promote the need for 'systematic synthetic phonics' in England, routinely sends congratulatory letters to schools coming in the top percentage of effective teaching for foundational literacy - there are many other examples as some schools share their appreciation of receiving Minister Gibb's letters via local media and/or Twitter:

Read all about it – school in top 2 per cent ... 2-per-cent

In his letter, Mr Gibb says: “Your excellent teaching of phonics is something I hope to see replicated across the country – decoding skills are the foundations for pupils to progress to reading fluently.

“With 100 per cent of pupils at St Mary’s reaching or exceeding the pass mark in the check, your school is in the top two per cent of all primary schools in the country. Your success in teaching phonics and early reading so effectively means your pupils are developing a firm foundation in literacy.”

In an endeavour to replicate this level of success that some schools are able to achieve, the Department for Education in England has established 34 'English Hubs'). These schools are centres of excellence and outreach to regional 'partner schools' that seek further support - both financially and professionally.

Learn more about this initiative and the establishment of the 'English Hubs Training Centre' (EHTC) here:


Re: Eng: Minister Nick Gibb routinely sends congratulatory letters to schools achieving very highly in the Y1 phonics ch

Posted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:21 pm
by Geoff Vaughan
I think this is so important to have a systematic phonics champion as the schools minister. Nick Gibb has been consistent in his determination to have proper decoding taught properly in Primary schools in England and it is this determination of his that is slowly but surely showing the improvements so badly needed for young learners. It is so easy for many to knock this commitment but, even when I have my doubts about Govt led policy drives, I keep reminding myself that it is the most at risk learners who benefit from a structured approach at an early stage and that will give them the very best possible start to being accomplished and successful readers. In addition, in nearly every serious article and comment about SSP from lead practitioners (like Debbie) they are always, always clear in saying that learning to decode is essential alongside creating a language rich learning environment. This is important and can sometimes be lost in the on-going debates.

Re: Eng: Minister Nick Gibb routinely sends congratulatory letters to schools achieving very highly in the Y1 phonics ch

Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 4:06 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Unfortunately, it's looking like there is a lack of joined-up thinking and action in England despite the incredible advances made to promote evidence-informed systematic synthetic phonics provision within a language and literature rich environment.

Since the pandemic and coronavirus lockdown in England, the government in England has provided advisory links to various programmes and intervention.

For foundational literacy, the 'DfE validated' phonics programmes are flagged up here: ... es#english

But an extremely concerned person sent me information to show that for literacy special needs, that is for 'intervention', the government coronavirus links lead to suggestions from the Education Endowment Foundation with none of the high quality phonics programmes included! The EEF has entitle this their 'Promising Projects List'.

Please note that the DfE validated systematic synthetic phonics programmes are not just initial teaching, or 'mainstream' programmes - they are also intervention programmes.

I was provided with evidence to illustrate these worrying connections (or should I more aptly say 'disconnections'), see here: ... covery.pdf

The Department for Education in England, and Ofsted (the schools' inspectorate) have been informed about this very worrying state of affairs.

It's very clear that pioneers for evidence-informed reading instruction in America and Australia (and other countries) - often associated with dyslexia organisations - are fighting a corner for systematic synthetic phonics provision for both mainstream and intervention provision.

I'm coining the phrase 'Orwellian Double Guidance'.

This idea is coming from the notion of Orwell's 'Doublethink' and 'Doublespeak':

Because what are teachers to understand for their professional understanding of reading instruction whether for mainstream provision or intervention. They keep being given official and authoritative mixed messages. This LEAVES TO CHANCE what they 'understand' and what they provide for children. It's shameful and unaccountable.