The teaching of ‘phonics’ emphasises on learning the relationship between letter patterns and the sounds they represent. This direct instruction teaches children how to achieve the recording to sound and how the visual symbol system of the English language represents the sounds of different words (Goouch and Lambirth, 2007).
According to the Department for Education (2013a), English is a pre-eminent language and at the heart of England’s education and society. The document then explains that it is vital for children to receive a high-quality education in English, as this will teach the children to communicate their ideas and emotions to others, and allow others to communicate with them. The reason behind this is that the ability to read allows pupils to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually; whilst also enabling the children to acquire knowledge, and to reinforce and scaffold upon what they already know. It is essential for children to be educated with all the skills of the English language, so that they can participate fully as a member of the society; children who do not learn these skills fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised and alienated from society (Glazzard and Stokoe, 2013).
It is then clear that a high level of attainment and achievement should be acquired to ensure that pupils have the necessary abilities to perform well within society. However, according to the Ofsted report, Moving English Forward: Action to Raise Standards in English (2012), one in five pupils are performing below the expected standards in English at the end of Key Stage 2. Therefore, it is essential to review the procedures to ensure that these pupils are supported and target the children who are falling behind early.
Until the 19th Century, the traditional technique of the teaching of reading was the alphabetic method. This method involved teaching children to recognise and name the letters of the alphabet, both capital and lower case, in alphabetical order.
In the mid 1930’s, phonics was deemed outdated and was banned from schools, and ‘the whole word method’, also known as the ‘look and say’ technique, was established in the UK in the 1940s, after being promoted by American psychologist Edmund Huey in 1908. The theory behind this method is that if children can recognise large words instantly, then they could use the sentence context to find out the meaning of unknown words, and so they were taught to repeat words on a page to reinforce their memory and therefore memories each word. By encouraging enough repetition of each word, it allowed children to recognise the words naturally. However, for students that struggled to memories the whole words, phonics was reintroduced as a last resort.
During the late 1950s, parents started to grow concerned that their children did not have any strategies to decode unknown words. When Why Johnny Can’t Read (Flesch, 1955) was published, parents and...