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My school is currently going through an Intensive Support Programme and we have been asked to fill in a target setting sheet that will eventually track the children through the years. The one for Reception was not appropriate (as the four coloured boxes didn't correspond with the four colours in the FSC!!).

 

Anyway, we decided we would come up with our own criteria. We took an ELG and worked backwards (as we knew that we needed to make them adequate steps to keep in line with the NC levels).

 

The example we started with was to be able to blend CVCs by the end of Rec. This suggests that the step before would be to identify initial and final sounds in words. This then would assume that the step before would be to be able to identify the majority of alphabet sounds and begin to identify intial sounds in words. The box before that would then be for SEN children.

 

On paper they look like appropriate targets. Thing is, the children in our three form entry school are not even close to hitting the first box yet. The FSco is more than happy to now accept that they won't be there by the end of the year either (100% EAL children). I'm frutstrated that it is accepted and not focused on as a target for us to try and push this more. We have a less than large priority on phonics awareness and it frustrates me. I am not suggesting that if done my way I can improve them 200% but by fighting and suggesting that it is 'our' children who are the ones who cannot do it, suggests that there is no willingness to believe that we could do any more for them. I do not underestimate the vast improvement in English skills that develops in our FS, nor do I forget that most if not all come in with no language skills at all. What I am frustrated with is the fact that although we see them not attaining national targets, when I compare them to children in similar schools that I visited last year as an NQT, it's almost like 'well their families are further down the main road so it's almost like they are a different creed of EAL people'!!!

 

My post (this time!) is to question y'all on whether you come up with the same problems in your schools. Of the three Rec teachers, only one (the FSco) is the only one who seems to fight a need for more emphasis on phonic games. It has literally taken me til today to get her to agree to not confuse the hell out of them with introducing the letter and sound at the same time.

 

I'm frustrated again! does this happen all throughout a teacing career? Is there never a point where you feel that you are happy doing the best for your children even if that means that you have to change things - is there ever a time where other people don't mind you being flexible???? It's the second year of my teaching career and I've spent most of it wondering whether I chose the wrong school or whether I have too high expectations of the school.

 

Please help! With what, I'm not sure!

 

D xxx

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The target for reception in an ISP school would be an end of reception, age related target which would be linked to ELGs. Thus you would be aiming your average children for this target and your more able above that wwith your less able probably within green level. This would be for the end of the year. What was the identified school curricular target? This is what will drive the focus for this terms targets across the year groups and may therefore not be phonics. If the end of KS2 analysis doesn't show phonic skills as an area of weakness then the school is probably addressing issues of EAl etc to overcome these throughout years N - 6. ISP is a whole school improvement strategy and even if the children don't reach age related targets the main aim is to show how much progress through targeted teaching you have achieved. Schools down the road may not be "Statistical neighbours" and therefore may not be comparable with your school. The panda etc would have a closer comparison with like schools in terms of FSM/EAL/SEN.

 

I would expect phoneme/grapheme awareness being taught in reception. without these skills the children will not be able to blend and segment. If you look at the Playing with sounds materials there is clear guidance on the pace of teaching for this by the end of R, which supports the profile points linking sounds to letters. There is a need for opportunities to practice these skills though games and play contexts but this is balanced by discrete, systematic teaching.

 

I do agree that the ISP materials are not always fully integrated for FS, I work in 10 ISP schools in the FS and have had to revamp much of the target setting materials in my borough. I would be interseted to see what your school has been given to use if possible.

 

 

 

 

:)

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Thanks Catma. The whole school is 100% EAL and the curricular targets are writing - sentence construction reading - phonics and numeracy - calculation. KS2 and KS1 SATS show a problem area in phonics and the PANDA report is abismal to say the least. Thing is, it seems to be a problem that every year is blaming another year and not taking on board what they need to do in their own year. My reception year is plagued by the opinion of the FSco and long standing nursery nurses that the children are not able to take on board anymore than what we give them - but it doesn't currently include a religious and regular phonics session. They will learn it when they are ready (apparently) but if not given it regularly how can they learn???

 

I'm at odds with the whole thing. I try to push for more emphasis on phonics games and the playing with sounds booklet, but it doesn't come into play because the comments I hit are that these programmes have been around beofre and it's just something else that is being pushed on us. It's so frutrating!

 

Would love more guidance on how to go about working it out though if you could help!

 

D xxx

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If the phonics is a curricular target for the school then that firmly puts the emphasis on a whole school need to raise the game at all levels, whether children are EAL or not. That's the point of the ISP as you'll know. You will have had your target setting staff meeting and probably the one on sharing objectives/developing the learning environment. I've attached a background to the Playing with sounds materials which is the rationale for why it exists. This might help with your arguing the case for more systematic an discrete phonics work in your classes. If there is real resistance however talk to your ISP consultant or Head, because the ISP will only work if everyone sees raising attainment as their issue too, not just the problem of Y2 and Y6.

 

Any questions just ask!

 

:o

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We have the Playing With Sounds folder that came into school. When I introduced it to the other Reception Staff it was almost seen as one of those other initiatives that are obviously put here to bug us. I completed my NQT year in this school last year and this is the first term of my second year. In that time I have tried to feed back on the courses I have been on that have highlighted a progressive and regular phonics programme in Reception. The response I continuously come up against is that it will not work for our children (100% EAL).

 

The suggestion that the sounds need to be introduced as groups and games played with the children having to separate the different sounds i.e. hoop game etc is met with great reluctance. Our children find it hard to remember one letter at a time is all I get back. To say that the children should be familiar with all the letters of the alphabet and their sounds to start identifying initial sounds is going to be very difficult on the child's part as they are introduced to one letter sound a week. That means for the child who comes in to Reception with no letter sounds from home, that at the end of the year they will have been introduced to all of them. This means that they are nowhere near on track to handle CVC words because they are still grasping the idea of initial sounds. I try and tell them this but it's been like this for years. Three years ago they had an Ofsted Inspection that highlighted that the Foundation Stage was 'good' and this is what they grasp at each time I mention the need for more phonic activities.

 

I'm not suggesting what they do is wrong. It is just so limiting. I've just come off a great Guided Reading course and fed back on that, because that has obvious implications for phonic knowledge. I got the looks of people who didn't really want to hear. It's almost like they are not getting that we need to move with the times. Our PANDA is really bad. For years the school has been led to believe that KS1 SATS are okay and that the weakness lies with KS2. Eyes have recently been widened because that is not the case - both are utterly abismal - and everyone is suddenly realising that something needs to be done drastically or we are heading for the special measures title. This is where the ISP will help. Problem is, it is still being met with resistance. They still don't see that what they are doing has ultimately fed into the bad results and that enhancements need to be made to their current practices to change the results. It's the enhancement that I think they are having problems with. They make excuses for not taking these schemes on board. Rather than saying right, lets try it for a term and see how things go, it is an automatic wave of silence I get back.

 

They are a great bunch of people and deep down they have the children's best interest in mind, because deep down, they see our children coming into Nursery with no or little English skills, with a lot of them not wanting to talk at all. They then compare them to what they are like now in Reception and see the immense progress they have made. They don't seem to be acknowledging my opinion that if we do try these methods, the progress they are likely to make is much much more. Yes we are going to get the voluntary mutes. Yes we are going to get the children who are not going to progress at the speed of light. But we are going to ensure that we are providing the children with access to material that they may take on board, rather than assuming they won't be able to do it.

 

I know I am preaching to the converted, but how do I preach to the downright stubborn? It's not my job to instill it through the Foundation Stage - it's the co-ordinator. I can't even instill it into my own room because I share it with the Foundation Stage co-ordinator as a double classroom.

 

The FS co-ordiantor has managed to beef up what we do in Reception. People are told that we do do phonics - but then a passing comment on a carpet session that our letter sound this week is Ll and letter, light, lizard begin with that sound does not constitute an adequate phonics session to me.

 

Her husband is the chair of governors, we have a consultant head in at the minute and when the new head starts at Easter he's going to be less than bowled over at my waltzing into his room and saying look, we should be doing all these things but I am hitting a brick wall with the staff who have been there for decades! The other reception teacher is saying the same things as me - we are supporting each other, but it's hard coz we are still seen as the NQTs with far too much energy and a habit of trying to take on board everything we hear when we talk to other teachers in Reception or go on courses!

 

I don't even see what good talking to the ISP guy. It seems he has more than enough problems higher on up the school. I've spent a good part of today updating my CV and am looking elsewhere at the minute. It's a shame because I can see so much potential. I'm just so frustrated it's unbelievable.

 

Any suggestions (or jobs???!!!)

 

Thanks for the ear!

 

D xxx

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Not sure really what contribution I can make here, I'd be preaching to the converted!

I have worked in a high percentage EAL school, and a systematic phonics approach will work. The children lap it up especially if you are using a programme like Jolly Phonics. I prefer this to PiPS, although I have used some of the ideas for games. I have not had the opportunity to work with Playing with Sounds as I am currently doing Supply teaching, so cant comment on that but I would suggest that you move your phonic teaching on from 1 letter a week--that is just too slow and boring! Why is being in a double class room with the coordinator a problem?

 

Also If you dont already I think you should start recording the conversations that you have had about changes in a diary so that you can, should you need to, prove that you have had these conversations and the responses.

 

Good luck.

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Because of the sharing a room it is very hard to manage phonics sessions if her class are running and playing at my end, disrupting my class teaching. There is also the intimidation I feel when I do do things differently and sometimes influence what has been the norm for a long time. It is harder to actually do in this situation because of the conflict of interests.

 

I thank you for your advice on writing stuff down. I think that is a good idea that I have not actually done. Will start Monday!

 

Thanks

 

xxx

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ok. I understand that!

Can you not negotiate teaching times so that you are not disturbed in that way?

It is diificult though I know, as we had to abandon the way we were trying to teach for just those reasons, but thats another story!

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