Teachers have expressed concerns that teaching children to read using the synthetic phonics method could be the detriment of a child’s natural reading ability.
Ex primary school teacher and teachers union executive, Eric Skyte said on the issue: “Any previously experienced teacher of reading will tell you that There is no one method that works for every child, if it doesn’t work for one group of children you have to try something else.
“The problem this method of synthetic teaching and testing creates is that it tests their phonics and not their ability to read.”
In 2012 only 58% of six-year olds passed the controversial new phonics tests, teaching unions said that the tests could risk damaging children’s reading long term by encouraging them to decode words using a single method rather than using their natural reading ability to read for meaning.
Sue Butler, a former primary teacher in St-Leonards on Sea commented: “ I think the phonic method can be used but only as part of a wider teaching scheme. English is not like Scandinavian languages, which are based almost solely on word sounds.
“It shouldn’t be used as the sole method of teaching, it definitely could be detrimental to children who already read.”
Mrs Butler also said that children who are frequently read to by their parents are used to more complicated language and could be deterred from reading altogether if they feel that what they have already learnt is being undermined.
Whilst helpful to some children, teachers believe the method should not be rigidly imposed as it is potentially damaging to children who are already reading using their own skills. Concerns are that it may discourage young readers from attempting to read books, which contain words with sound patterns they are not learning in class.
The government believes that teaching reading phonetically is the best way to stop children falling behind with their reading skills.