Tutors plus Phonics are a Brilliant Equation

August 20, 2018 1:20 pm Published by Comments Off on Tutors plus Phonics are a Brilliant Equation

On this occasion let me dispel some myths regarding tutors. Firstly that only the wealthy can afford them. Nonsense, for most of my sixty year career in tutoring I never charged a penny but succeeded in teaching, via the magical phonic sounds, numerous children to read. Secondly, that tutors are used mainly to advance bright children beyond their peer groups. This, you are asked to believe, is to enable those already achieving children to scoop prizes by enhancing their results and to win places at top sixth form colleges and Russell Group universities. Wrong! My tutoring over all these years has never included bright children wanting to be brighter. I have, however, had extremely clever children who have missed out...


The Smart Way to Teach Tables

May 2, 2018 4:15 pm Published by Comments Off on The Smart Way to Teach Tables

As a fairly firm traditionalist I rejoice in today’s acceptance, albeit grudgingly, that old methods do work. One of the most disturbing elements in the classroom over the past 50 years has been the arrangement of tables. In most cases up to ten children are sitting with their backs to the teacher. No eye contact and scant attention to a lesson unless the child opts to physically move his chair and tune in. Recent studies have proved that formal rows, with chalk and talk front of class teaching, produces formidably excellent results and is favoured by many successful schools. What is more these schools, frequently with a policy of strict discipline, can provide a quiet and structured atmosphere. This both...


Is Stress Really a Fashion Statement?

July 24, 2017 3:47 pm Published by Comments Off on Is Stress Really a Fashion Statement?

Stress. Pressure. No longer the effects of extreme and unbearable suffering like fire, flood and earthquake but reduced now to buzz words, cliches. Children are stressed, business men and women are pressured, teachers, doctors, shop assistants, holiday makers, models, dogs, cats and horses – all stressed. All under such demanding pressure they barely cope. And yet so many people endured two world wars, lived with the constant threat of bombs dropping on schools, homes and places of work. They fed their families on pitiful rations, scrimped for clothes, had inadequate heating and lived day after day with the news of the death of yet another family member or friend. Were they stressed? Were they pressured? Yes of course they were...


Step by Step to Literacy with Fast Phonics

April 27, 2017 3:02 pm Published by Comments Off on Step by Step to Literacy with Fast Phonics

Good news at last on the education front. The latest classroom development, announced by the Daily Mail of 15.04.2017, ‘Union members refuse to teach unruly pupils.’ For too many years teaching staff, inadequately equipped to deal with consistently recalcitrant children, have faced knives, abuse and standoffs from a spattering of young thugs. Again and again, day after day one child’s truculence has resulted in an entire lesson being disrupted or lost for the rest of the class. Quoting from the above article, ‘Some (teachers) are refusing to teach out-of-control pupils who have brought knives into school or threatened to set staff on fire and some as young as eight have been allowed to stay in lessons despite the risk they...


More Easy Reading Tips with Fast Phonics

March 19, 2017 2:13 pm Published by Comments Off on More Easy Reading Tips with Fast Phonics

Once again Grammar schools are on the agenda and once again, with the predicability of a snowflake melting in hot sun, all those dangerously divisive voices have been raised in protest. All I can say is that this country needs its brains and if your child has the chance to go to a Grammar it will be a golden opportunity to receive the best education leading to the finest opportunities life has to offer. Above all, Grammar school placings must be won on merit alone. My Primary school was tiny and many, many miles from the city. The parents were predominately dirt poor farm workers, the school library a shelf of very old books and attendance random at best. The...


How Neat Writing Helps Fast Phonics on its Way

February 20, 2017 4:44 pm Published by Comments Off on How Neat Writing Helps Fast Phonics on its Way

Recently it was reported that parents are going back to school, not to begin or complete degrees, but for an even better reason. They want to catch up with their children. Education has changed, it has leapt forward dramatically in an effort to repair the damage of past years. During those years I taught English to Italian and Spanish teenagers who could spot an adverbial, define a gerund, write a perfect complex sentence and parse it with ease. Their knowledge of our language was astounding while our teenagers had barely progressed beyond the very basic nouns and verbs. As we move forward to catch up, parents are feeling left behind. Well done those mums and dads who, instead of complaining...


Can a Three Year Old Read with Fast Phonics?

January 20, 2017 10:24 am Published by Comments Off on Can a Three Year Old Read with Fast Phonics?

Time gentlemen please! No, I’m not referring to pub closing but, more accurately, to the closing of the school time table. Schools were actively teaching small groups of children in Greek and Roman days, but schools, as we know them, date from around the 16th century. From earliest times the basic idea has been to educate children in the 3Rs – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Today we can look back on vast numbers of architects,scientist, judges, poets, mathematicians, and all the great and wonderful thinkers who have emerged to lead the world, all educated under the 3R system. It has worked extraordinarily well, until now. More and more frequently strident pressure groups are demanding their own politics du jour become...


How Games and Fast Phonics Help Early Readers

December 18, 2016 6:44 pm Published by Comments Off on How Games and Fast Phonics Help Early Readers

After a hiatus of 4 weeks I am back. While Grammar Schools continue to divide political parties, such reasons being given by nay-sayers are not even remotely near the mark. Their argument centres mainly on the fact that bright pupils from the community are needed to form the top stratum of Comprehensives/Academies. They claim those very bright children will inspire the slower pupils to achieve. Of course this is nonsense. Our country needs its bright minds and those bright minds, indubitably, develop and flower more vividly at Grammar Schools. These establishments give clever children from poor backgrounds an opportunity to reach the top fruit on life’s tree. Grammars have teachers as committed to excellence and attendance as those found at...


How to Help Fast Phonics on its Way

November 11, 2016 3:55 pm Published by Comments Off on How to Help Fast Phonics on its Way

From the Times Educational Supplement of 5 November 2016, the headline: ‘Schoolgirls suffer in silence about their struggle to read.’ Leaving aside the emotive verb ‘suffer,’ more accurately applied to children in war zones, the writer is referring to the fact children, apparently girls in particular, thanks to phonics can now read every word but not comprehend every word. As my readers will know I have trumpeted phonics for 57 years, but in today’s parlance it is a no-brainer that phonic excellence goes hand in hand with dictionary skills. I would have assumed any school worth its salt would be providing dictionaries/iPads to enable their pupils to achieve excellence in both text understanding and analysis, plus word knowledge. In fact,...


Clever Parents Play Games to Help Early Readers

October 17, 2016 5:01 pm Published by Comments Off on Clever Parents Play Games to Help Early Readers

I have always felt games provide the best way of teaching children, especially if the concept involved is fairly abstract. When my son was tiny, back in the sixties, we used to play a game which, though simplistic in nature, provided him with an excellent lesson for the future. The biscuit tin game involved placing a biscuit tin on the kitchen table (often he would fetch it himself in anticipation of playing the game). We would sit on either side of the table and he would describe the tin he could see – it had two lambs and some roses. I would tell him my tin had a shepherd and a dog on the side. We’d hmm and hah, roll...