The UCL university study published this week—which lambasts the government directed method of teaching young children to read—comes as no surprise to early years practitioners like myself.
The narrow focus on synthetic phonics—first teaching letter sounds—is failing children and sucking the joy out of teaching them.
Schools are increasingly encouraged to invest in schemes that dictate exactly how we should teach, and children should learn.
The online training for my school’s new scheme included questions like, “‘There should be no mix and match of phonics programme resources’—true or false?” The answer was true. Woe betide any teacher that strayed from the brand and thought they could mix and match resources.
I suppose all those other phonic pictures and books need to be shredded.
I shared the study to my nursery and reception teacher—they both replied they couldn’t agree more with its findings.
We have an awful new phonics scheme at the moment called Little Wandle, which is totally full of corporate rubbish.
The schemes are prescriptive, even down to the facial expressions you should use with the children.
Everyone has to learn the same mantras and all the lesson plans are written by the company. Children are even tested on nonsense words that don’t make sense. Educators shouldn’t behave like robots to produce children who are not encouraged to think about the world around them.
The reality is they have to consume small chunks of contextless fodder.
Like other rules the Tories set, I guarantee they don’t apply to their own children.
No doubt in public schools, teachers will use a variety of strategies and a breadth of texts because that is what actually works.
As teaching assistants our time is taken up in the early years of education with interventions to get children through the phonics test.
The new Labour MP is rotten
In the 2019 election campaign, with a couple of hundred other socialists, I heard Lucy Burke speak—the Labour Party candidate for Bury South constituency.
In 2020 most of those people came out again to take the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Keir Starmer has delivered a kick in the teeth to all those people by allowing the Tory Christian Wakeford to defect and become the Labour MP for Bury South.
Wakeford voted for the £20 a week cut to Universal Credit, the Nationality and Borders Bill and the police and crime bill.
The fact that Wakeford feels comfortable in Labour shows the depth of the crisis in the Tory Party. But it also shows just how far to the right Labour has travelled since 2019.
Tory MPs are now welcome, while thousands of socialists are expelled.
But in Greater Manchester, as well as elsewhere, there is an alternative. Last Saturday, there was a fantastic Kill the Bill demonstration in the city.
The bus driver Tracey Scholes was reinstated after a massive campaign and the Chep workers have been on all-out strike since before Christmas.
Socialist politics and organisation based on these struggles outside of parliament are the way forward.
South Yorkshire bus strike had complications
The article about the Stagecoach strikes in South Yorkshire emphasised the determination and strength of the pickets, which should encourage other workers to fight.
It stated that the final settlement was higher than most had expected, but rightly points out it does not keep up with the true rate of inflation.
However, the sentence saying the action was suspended by workers in Barnsley and Rotherham leaving those in Sheffield to fight alone was not accurate.
These two areas have previously had separate wage negotiations. Their weekly pay dates are separate, which is why the strikes started on different days.
There are also complications about differing overtime rates and sick pay.
A meeting of 200 Sheffield drivers voted to accept the deal with a lower hourly rate but enhanced conditions compared to Barnsley and Rotherham.
George Arthur, Barnsley
Phil Turner, Sheffield
Influencer is ignorant on poverty
Molly-Mae Hague, a British influencer and creative director of fast fashion brand Pretty Little Thing, has been under scrutiny for comments on poverty.
Her statements—such as “we all have the same 24 hours in the day” and other “motivational comments”—have caused a debate.
It centres not only on her success, but the falsity of the “feminist girl boss” figure that has been pushed by the system in recent years.
Hague’s PR crisis didn’t stop there. A later expose saw her advertising the position of a social media manager with a salary of £20,000—ridiculously low for that kind of job.
She thinks that regardless of where you come from, becoming CEO of a multimillion‑pound company by the age of 22 is achievable for those that simply work hard enough.
This is a reductive and privileged assertion.
It leaves a very bitter taste coming from a woman that represents the white, upper class, and hyper-feminine image that plagues Instagram.
Even more so, considering that her vast wealth comes at the cost of the thousands of exploited sweatshop workers that create Pretty Little Thing’s unsustainable garments.
Change is from struggle
The left—in the Labour party or outside—would do well to read Nick Clark’s article on Jeremy Corbyn’s potential new party (Socialist Worker, 12 January).
We won’t change society by working within a corrupt parliamentary system designed to prevent change in favour of ordinary people.
Real change comes from the outside.
Boot out Johnson on our terms
Although I’ll be glad to see the back of Boris Johnson, I feel irritated by media manipulation.
It suits them for whatever reason to get rid of him now—so they think let’s go for him.
But there have been bigger scandals in my opinion, such as releasing Covid patients into care homes.
Tories are hypocrites
I’m not obeying “rules” that the rule makers break. It was clear back in March 2020 they only made the rules for the minions.
They profit grossly from extortionate fines, which should be paid back in full with compensation and full pardon of criminal wrongdoing.
Vile government cretins on their high horse.
Time to fight back people.
No place for socialists
Two years into his term as leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer’s only “achievement” is to make his party a hostile environment for socialists.
But it’s a welcoming place for vile, racist, reactionaries jumping ship from the Tory party in a desperate attempt to save their seats.