Phonics instruction and early reading
NATE's latest research paper makes a critical analysis of current approaches to the teaching of reading in the early years, drawing on government documents, professional literature and the views of respondents to the 2013 NATE survey on phonics instruction and early reading. The 615 respondents to the NATE survey - mainly early years teachers, but all phases of education are well represented - make a cogent argument against a narrow approach to early reading and demonstrate the strength and depth of professional opinion on this crucial issue. The paper concludes that the government case for an exclusive focus on 'systematic synthetic phonics' in early years instruction is poorly argued and unsupported by the evidence cited in the government's own documentation. The view that phonics instruction must be embedded in a language-rich curriculum is supported by all relevant studies, by the reported practice of the 'best' primary schools, and by the professional experience and opinion of teachers, academics and other stakeholders. An infant subject leader commented in the survey: 'The results only confirmed what we already knew and in some cases the children under-achieved by a considerable amount. Would the government please accept our professional expertise?'