Literacy: Teaching Methods

Department for Education written question – answered on 29th June 2020.

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Photo of Olivia Blake Olivia Blake Labour, Sheffield, Hallam

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reasons Ofsted's draft Initial Teacher Education Inspection Framework and Handbook, published as part of his Department's consultation on that document, bans the use of competing approaches in early reading teaching; and for what reasons Ofsted changed its position in the Initial Teacher Training Core Content Framework which only mandated the use of systematic synthetic phonics to teach decoding in early reading.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

There is sound evidence that systematic phonics is a highly effective method for teaching early reading. The evidence indicates that the teaching of phonics is most effective when combined with a language-rich curriculum to develop children’s positive attitudes towards literacy.

The Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework was published by the Department in November 2019 and is mandatory from September 2020. It makes clear that, in line with the Teachers’ Standards (2011), it is essential for all teachers of early reading to have a clear understanding of systematic synthetic phonics.

Ofsted are responsible for inspecting ITT provision and between 27 January and 4 April they held a public consultation on proposals related to their new Initial Teacher Education Inspection Handbook. The new handbook sets out how ITT provision will be inspected and was published on 24 June 2020 alongside Ofsted’s consultation response. For primary and secondary phases, ITT providers must ensure that their curricula provide the minimum entitlement to training as outlined in the ITT Core Content Framework.

England achieved its highest ever score in reading in 2016, moving from joint 10th to joint 8th in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) rankings. This follows a greater focus on reading in the primary curriculum, and a particular focus on phonics. These are the first international assessment results from a cohort of pupils who have experienced changes in primary curriculum and assessment introduced since the 2010 election.

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