The teaching of reading skills in British schools

Filed under: Education |

My daughter started Reception Class in January. Bit of a disastrous start as the snow came down and she missed 2 days of her first week, but never mind.

Ella had been going to a private nursery for 3 years prior to starting school. She has really developed in those years into an intelligent and inquisitive child, through the hard work of the nursery staff, my husband and myself..

I couldn’t wait for Ella to start school, as she was getting bored at nursery and needed to move on to more structured learning. Every time we walked passed school over the Christmas holidays, she wanted to go to her new class – she was so eager to start school.

She’s been there for three weeks now, and for the first time last week brought home her reading scheme book, and word box . (No instructions as to what we were supposed to do with it). We looked at the book together and Ella couldn’t understand why it had no words. I explained we had to make up a story to match the pictures.

We then looked at the word box, which contained words appropriate to the reading scheme (Mum, Dad, Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy).

I took Ella to school the next day and found another parent asking the teaching assistant what we were supposed to do with the reading book and word box. We were told by the Teaching Assistant that because the class size had increased, staff didn’t have time to read with the children and that we were to read with our children and then write a comment in the comments book and sign and date it. The school doesn’t have enough books for them to be changed on a daily basis, so if your child gets bored you can read other reading materials with them. (Good job Ella really likes Roald Dahl at the moment.)

With the word box, we have to show Ella a word, and if she recognises it tick the back of the word. Once you have 5 ticks, the child gets a star. The word is then put in a “Star Word” envelope. Once we have more high frequency words, we can then use the words in the “Star Word” envelope to make up sentences.

What happened to Phonics? – I thought that’s how the kids were being taught, not by word recognition. The Teaching Assistant also told us that it is essential that the children know their high frequency words, so that when they move up to Year 1 they won’t fall behind in the reading and language skills.

I do appreciate that we have to take some responsibility for our child’s education, but what are the teachers in “Literacy” doing, if not teaching our children to read. I find it frustrating that politicians on all sides bang on about how important education is for the growth of the country, and then they leave one of the most important aspects of learning to the parents.

As older parents (not too old though), my husband and I can remember our Janet & John books and reading to our teachers. My concern for my child is how her teacher is able to judge my child’s ability to read, if they don’t have the time to read with her.

(By guest contributor)

You must be logged in to post a comment Login