The Systematic Phonics Case Education Essay

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It is evident from the era of 80s and 90s where intellectual scholars and teachers presented new influential ideas regarding teaching of English. The field of teaching of reading is a subject that is vastly researched and still under further research. According to Pearson (2002), "Synthetic phonics was the main method of teaching since the beginning of 20th century, this type of teaching comprises exercise of learning letter names, sounds of letters and after then blending of these" (pg, 1). As the 20th century progressed, it brought more radical changes of approach. Smith (1971) focused on the area regarding the development of the capability to read. According to him, the reading has something that an individual learned to do rather than something an individual was taught. Synthetic phonics is not a new of teaching reading, in fact, its role of being prominent and popular teaching has been an unintended outcome of the whole language adoption approaches in British schools.

According to Rutter (2006), as far as synthetic phonics is concerned the evaluation of research has to be set long term and it needs to be made sure that children with learning difficulties should be assisted with different ways in order to make difference. Stuart (2006) emphasized that new alternatives has to be seek so that recommendations on national level could be made, Stuart made this suggestion to Rose "the current research evidence is not sufficient for allowing dependable judgments of the effectiveness of implementing different approaches to systematic structured phonics teaching" (Stuart, 2006; p11).

Systematic phonics Case

American National Reading Panel (NRP), in terms of research evidence and teaching of reading related questions, was amongst the vital contributors who reported in teaching children in English reading (NICHD, 2000). The report consisted of questions regarding the early literacy such as 'Does systematic phonics instruction help children learn to read more effectively than non systematic phonics instruction or instruction teaching no phonics?' (P92). 'Are some specific phonics programmes more effective than others? (P93). The conclusion from these questions was that 'specific systematic phonics programmes are all significantly more effective than non-phonics programmes; however, they do not appear to differ significantly from each other in their effectiveness although more evidence is needed to verify the reliability of effect sizes for each programme' (NICHD, 2000, pg93).

In another instance, a comprehensive teaching of reading approaches research was commissioned by England's Department for Education and Skills (DfES) in order to refined the NRP methodology by producing a randomised controlled trials (RCT) trials. Researchers in their work concluded that evidence has been seen in RCT studies which could prove the effectiveness of one form of systematic phonics compared with that of other (Torgerson et al, 2006). Rutter (2006) also commented that the important aspect of finding is that RCTs are one form of optimal research conditions. The real message that is evident from the meta-analysis, carried out by NRP and its restriction to RCTs, is the idea of importance of literacy acquisition as far as systematic teaching of phonics is concerned (Torgerson et al, 2006). Rose (2006) also agreed with this conclusion by stating that "the importance of systematic phonic work is vast and could be more effective if incorporated with synthetic approach, after looking at its evidence which is wide-ranging" (Rose, 2006, p20). However he emphasizes that regardless of commonality amidst systematic phonics and synthetic phonics, it is thus the synthetic phonics which can offer much better course to becoming skilled readers for early learners (p19).

Synthetic phonics case

Two studies were reported by Johnston and Watson (2004), in which the second experiment was carried out before the first one and is of greater importance since it is related to intervention. This intervention varied from normal to extra classroom tuition starting six weeks after school entry. The extra training kept on going for 10 weeks having 2 classes per week all consisted of 114 printed words. The one group was taught 2 letters per week by means of various games played where children matched pictures and words by just drawing their attention to initial word sounds and letters of those sounds while other group was taught in all positions of the words such as enhanced learning and blending of the letter sounds in all positions, while being taught 2 letters per week as well (Johnston and Watson, 2004, p347).

What authors concluded was that the group with synthetic phonics were far much better in terms of reading and spelling as compared to analytic phonics group and thus, the synthetic phonics proved to be effective approach to teaching spelling, reading phonemic awareness as compare to analytics phonics (Johnston and Watson, 2004).

Rose (2006) also stresses that synthetic phonics gives more essential skills that allows the majority of pupils to read and write ahead of their chronological age. According to her, the 20 percent students who have problems with literacy still have better foundation of the reading basics and just require extra time and participation.

Pearson's Findings

Pearson (2003) became part of investigative programme to gain some insights of the children regarding their reading view, their progress as well as things that were their aspects of success. During the 6 month period, she met the pupil twice, interviewing the children for about 30 minutes. Children were assured of their confidentiality in order to gather honest responses so that school can improvise on its stipulation in the coming academic years.

She conducted semi-structured interviews from the pupils, and to help them she used a visual prompt based on Kelly's approach (Leadbetter et al, 1999).

The idea she got from both interviews was related to the performance e.g. both the gender expressed that they stumble when they read out loud and that they don't like reading in the classroom and keep on spellings make them forget what to read. When the pupils' perspective was asked regarding the good readers, they commented that the good reader read louder and faster and that the difference between good reader and bad reader is that, the good reader makes the poor book sound good while bad readers makes a good book sound boring. Hence the outcome was that good readers have much better frequency as well as have much better reading. These views of pupils were seen evident even after nine months despite of the clue that their ideas of literacy in the secondary school were developing. Few pupils continued to the idea that there reading is affected when they get homework and that reading is mostly not the part of their homework. Therefore the basic impression of children regarding reading can be confusing and if constructs of children's reading are to develop helpfully then there should be a strategic plan for this.

Confidence is another factor influencing the performance f reading, less confidence can show evident decline in their reading performance. Persistent and ongoing encouragement of pupils in their reading can elevated their performance and there are staff members having particular skills, they can share the same skill with other staff members to help pupil improvise.

According to Pearson (2003), the influential role of family is also imperative in the process of reading. In her interviews with children, she found out that pupils appreciated carrying out reading with someone they knew although this opportunity was not obtainable all the time. Families encouraging the want of pupil to have reading partner might help them in progressing and hence will start to have more keen interest in reading and may buy books of their own interest for their reading career.

In terms of feedback, due to the lack of instruments used there were no specific criteria for pupils' idea of progress as compared to test results. However, at primary education stage, children are very competent to track the progress they made by means of using information like colour they are on, the groups they are working in and or the level with which they are asked to read. Though, this kind of system was recognized to be least available at the stage of secondary school education. Introducing broad steps at the secondary level may allow the children to track and identify the progress they have made in reading effectively.

Hence, the vital stage for schools to facilitate or delay pupils' adjustment is the period of transition that includes the Year seven. Supporting the reading process, boosting the confidence levels, influential role of family and the pupils' feedback are the most effective ingredients in developing literacy skills for both primary and secondary phase of the school.


The range to which teaching of reading should make the material appropriate to be taught has been still in the centre of arguments regarding reading pedagogy. There is disagreement going on regarding the fine ways to poising work on whole texts with sub-word-level work. One way to attach synthetic phonics teaching securely in an evocative context is to directly relate it to pupil's books and other complete texts. The Rose Report has by now started to have a straight influence on national educational policy in the United Kingdom since according to the report, the teachers and trainee teachers should be required to teach reading through synthetic phonics firstly and fast.

The interviews conducted by Sue Pearson gave two factors that encouraged the schools in order to give serious consideration to the findings, first was the honest responses from the pupils since they gave positive free of hesitation response and didn't felt forced regarding their reading progress. Secondly the pupils took participation very seriously. The interviews conducted gave broad range of future considerations to schools since pupils shared their likes and dislikes in the reading progress. Majority of them seem to have better progress in reading when they were motivated and getting assistance from family or someone they wished to read with. The information provided by the interview may play a key role in the secondary school in terms of planning a proper focus on the literacy and enhancing pupil's skills. Hence the research of Sue Pearson accordingly, discovered pupil's ambitions, both in terms of short-term and long-term as far as teaching of reading is concerned and will be an ongoing help for teachers in the prospect.