Written by: Akello Catherine
Up until the end of Term 1 this year, Highland Primary School in Gulu was one of our ‘control schools’ for our early grade reading tests. We hadn’t trained the teachers, we just visited the school to test childrens’ reading from Primary 1 to Primary 3. When we did our tests we found that most pupils could not read anything. In fact, at the end of term two 2016, Primary 3 pupils were only reading 5 words a minute.
We trained the teachers of Highland Primary in phonics this year at the beginning of Term 2; now they are no longer a ‘control school’. At the beginning of the training it started slowly but the teachers kept pushing forward and asking more questions.
After the training I went and did a demonstration lesson. I talked with the teachers after the demonstration and many told me they didn’t know children were even capable of writing the words at this age! After discussing, they said they would take my advice of teaching phonics every day. And I am so glad they did!
When I went back to observe the following week, I observed P2 and P3 and I found that children were doing well - they were reading and blending! The P2 teacher told me she was so happy to see pupils able to read words. She had already taught them all the sounds and was now seriously focusing on blending. I will continue to encourage them to keep teaching phonics. And I believe they will continue to improve.
Only one year later, P3 pupils have gone from reading 5 words a minute to now reading 25! Which is really an incredible improvement!