Friday 22 November 2019

Teachers want to scrap reading test

Many teachers believe the Government's reading check for six-year-olds should be scrapped
Many teachers believe the Government's reading check for six-year-olds should be scrapped

Teachers are practising made-up words like "spron" and "fape" in class to "train" pupils to pass a controversial new reading test, a survey suggests.

It found that many teachers believe the Government's reading check for six-year-olds should be scrapped, saying it does not give them new information about children's abilities, and could leave some youngsters discouraged.

Plans for the test were announced by ministers last year, amid fears youngsters with poor reading skills were slipping through the net.

The check, which is taken by pupils at the end of their first year of formal schooling (Year 1), is based on "synthetic phonics", a system which focuses on sounds rather than recognising whole words, and has been promoted by the Government as the best way to boost reading standards.

Pupils are asked to sound out or decode a series of words, some of which are made up, to test their reading skills. Examples of non-words include "voo", "terg'", "bim"', "thazz", "spron"', "geck'" and "fape", teaching unions have said.

Teachers have long had reservations about the check and three unions said that their new survey, which comes as pupils return to school for the start of the academic year, shows that these concerns remain.

The poll, conducted by Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the National Association of Head Teachers and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) questioned about 2,500 teachers in England, including around 1,500 Year 1 teachers on their current views of the test.

It found that just seven percent said that the test told them something new that they did not already know about the reading ability of children in their class or school.

One Year 1 teacher said: "I did not think the check was particularly negative until I carried it out. I had over 50% of my class fail the check and, given some of the children are reading above the level they should be in Year 2, to have to report to their parents that they have not met the standard in decoding seems ridiculous."

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: "The strength of feeling against this unnecessary test is extremely high and the gains for children low. Five is too young to fail."

PA Media

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