As all primary teachers know, the government is running a scheme whereby it 1) declares which commercial synthetic phonics publications are 'approved' and then 2) match-funds the buying of these schemes up to the value of 3000.00 per school.
So far, this adds up to nearly £8million pounds from the schools, match-funded by government.
I know of one scheme that wasn't approved.
So here are some questions:
1. How many schemes have had official government approval?
2. The new draft Primary English Curriculum proposals contain highly specific advice on the teaching of synthetic phonics. Presumably this advice overlaps more or less with the approved schemes. True? However, the proposals are not authored. They are anonymous. For the time being it's not possible to trace their origins.This may be significant.
3. If it is the case that the government documents overlap with the approved schemes, would it be true to say that the government is, in effect, handing over millions of quid to the publishers of the approved schemes? Or put slightly differently, does one scheme, one publisher, take the lion's share of the market? I've heard that indeed it does, it takes something like 80 or 90 per cent of the market. Is this true?
4. Is it the case that one of the authors/editors of one of the synthetic phonics schemes is also an adviser to the government on...er...synthetic phonics? And indeed this adviser is responsible for the very same synthetics phonics scheme which takes the lion's share of the market and indeed the lion's share of the government's matched funding?
5. Has it ever been known in the history of education that one person could act as a government adviser shaping what goes in government documents, is the author/editor of a programme of study which more or less matches the government document that he or she helped write and is also therefore the recipient (directly or indirectly) of government money?
6. Is this a scandal? Is this corruption?
7. No teacher or publisher will dare to write any of what I'm writing here, because it will give them problems.
8. If anyone wants to write to me about this, they can do it anonymously on facebook or twitter, or to my email firstname.lastname@example.org