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Phonics Scheme

Volume 450: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) whether the evaluation of the pilot phonics scheme announced on 26 July 2005 included a comparison of the effectiveness of alternative interventions; (92280)

(2) whether the evaluation of the pilot phonics scheme announced on 26 July 2005 included the use of standardised reading and spelling tests;

(3) what assessment he has made of the pilot phonics scheme announced on 26 July 2005.

The phonics pilot scheme referred to (the early reading development pilot) was designed to test whether phonic work could be taught faster and more systematically to bring about better literacy outcomes for children while still maintaining the benefits of the broader foundation stage curriculum. The scheme, which began before Jim Rose's report was published, was based on existing primary national strategy teaching materials and therefore did not generate information on the effectiveness of alternative interventions.

In line with statutory guidance for the age group involved (four and five-year-olds), children were assessed against the relevant early learning goals within the foundation stage profile. Teachers regularly assessed children's progress in acquiring knowledge of the 44 phonemes (sounds) in the English language and in their ability to use this knowledge to read and spell unfamiliar words. Feedback from the programme suggests the approaches used have led to improvements in the development of phonic knowledge and skills, without compromise to children's wider development. An independent consultant reviewed the work undertaken by schools and early years settings as part of the pilot, looking at areas such as data and the progress made by practitioners and children in following the pilot approaches. This confirmed that there had been a positive impact on children's progress and on practitioners' confidence and expectations of children's attainment.

We are implementing Jim Rose's recommendations through the new primary framework for literacy and mathematics and will be using the outcomes of the pilot to help inform implementation.