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Regulatory gaze and ‘non-sense’ phonics testing in early literacy

Flewitt, Rosie and Roberts-Holmes, Guy (2015) Regulatory gaze and ‘non-sense’ phonics testing in early literacy. In: Multimodality and Governmentality: Negotiating Spaces in Literacy Education. Bloomsbury, London. (In Press)

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In the context of increasing political intervention in early years and primary assessment in England, this chapter discusses how the power of ‘highly prescriptive systems of accountability’ (Ball, 2013, p173) has drawn early literacy into the state’s regulatory and disciplinary gaze through a process of ‘datafication’ (Roberts-Holmes, 2014). We examine the disciplinary effects of assessment technologies upon early literacy pedagogy through the focussed perspective of one inner-city primary Headteacher discussing the impact of the statutory ‘Phonics Screening Check’ (DfE, 2012a). We critique the multimodal design of this assessment tool for 5-6 year-old children in England, and discuss how some practitioners have ‘cynically complied’ (Bradbury 2013, p124) to new literacy regulations through a process of accommodation and resistance. Whilst the Phonics Screening Check will no doubt disappear in time from early literacy assessment in England, it serves as an example of how discourses of power infiltrate from political ideology to literacy policy and education practice, undermining professional judgement and moulding children's multimodal experiences of literacy in the primary classroom. As education assessment technologies come and go, it is highly likely that teachers’ work will continue to be constrained by the political need to produce ‘appropriate’ data (Bradbury 2013; Roberts-Holmes, 2014). We therefore close the chapter by suggesting that Foucault’s conceptualisation of ‘care of the self’ (Foucault, 1988) can create spaces for teachers to resist imposed régimes of governmental ‘truth’ and to plan motivating, creative and multimodal activities that nurture young students’ long-term engagement with literacy learning.

Item Type: Book Section
Controlled Keywords: Multimodality, Governmentality, Early Literacy , Phonics , Foucault, Learning, Arts and Humanities(all)
Depositing User: Atira Pure
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2014 14:02
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2015 09:57
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