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Campaign against the Phonics Test for 6yr Olds

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Rogerdbilling, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. Hello

    Just a quick post to direct people to No To Phonics Test Blog

    We have set up a Blog to help promote the campaign against the Phonics Test for 6yr Olds.

    Please visit the site and click through to the petition that has been set up.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Lead commenter

    Welcome to TES, roger

    I see you have mastered the star rating system already ...
  3. Seemed to make sense, in my opinion. Thanks for the welcome, not been here before, but certainly seems a busy place.

    Was suggested I headed over here by someone on Twitter.

    Do you have an opinion on the test?
  4. Roger maybe you should give your opinions on the test?
    I am assuming the test will be oral? Am I correct?
  5. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    I don't have any problems with the test itself (other than the use of nonsense words - but at least these are signalled, so children know which words are nonsense). It's the sort of thing that year 1 teachers should be doing anyway. Hopefully, there will be good phonics teaching going on in Foundation, and teachers will have passed their information onto their year 1 colleagues. But children do change over the summer holidays, and may have forgotten some of the phonic knowledge and skills that they had in Foundation.
    I've looked at the latest guidance from the DfE, and spoken to a colleague who went on training to carry out assessments as we're in the pilot. It looks like it should only take a few minutes - we test our Foundation children more rigorously in the spring term when we're looking at our phonics groups. Our children don't find that assessment stressful, so I'm sure the year 1s will be fine.
    What I do have a problem with is that the results are going on RAISEonline, so could be another stick to beat schools with.
  6. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I would hope most schools already carry out their own phonics screening termly so this is just formalising good practice.
  8. ditwee

    ditwee New commenter

    I'm already using it. I don't see why its such a big deal!?
  9. And is there a blog to object to the formal national genre writing assessment for six to seven year olds?
    Or is there just an objection to the word-level discovery of what children can do?
  10. I'm sorry, OP. I've followed your link and read the first page. How anyone of any intelligence can give any credence to such ill informed scaremongering twaddle is beyond me.

  11. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    I agree with Debbie, Msz and Mazie on this - how can you assess a child's reading skills without that sort of information? Are we supposed to just guess? If we guess, how do you then devise strategies for improvement, unless you know what the difficulties are in the first place.
  12. Couldn't agree more with a lot of what is said here - this is something that people are already doing - how can you assess without that sort of information - etc.

    The problem behind the whole test is that the data will be used by OFSTED, provided to parents and compared on a local authority level, as a result of this, we run the risk of ending up with 'teaching to the test' in a similar way to what we have seen with Yr6 over the last few years. In the schools where teachers and SLTs direct the whole of year 6 towards the end of year tests, we will see this repeated for this test, which will possibly damage the learning that goes on in the Foundation stage.

    Certain schools will feel pressured into making sure that by the time the 6yr olds in their school reach Yr1 they are as prepared as is humanly possible for the test.

    As the site says and most of the comments, people don't have a problem with phonics, it is key to a well balanced approach to the teaching and learning of reading, however, we do not need to test the children and report the results.

    The current Government has stated it wants to hand the power back to the schools and teachers, however, this does not fit with the phonics test, as people have mentioned, we already find out this information.

    One other area is that we have all known children who can read by 6 and love it to bits, yet they will still be sat down in front of 'made up words' and asked to read them - which in many cases will confuse matters. Which is why, in the current situation, teachers use their years of experience and judgement to decide which children need support, rather than a blanket approach!

    Just my thoughts on the matter
  13. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I'm not against the phonics test per se, but I just think that there might be a better and more cost effective way of checking that schools are delivering a systematic synthetic phonics programme and identifying the strugglers.
    For example, if you were running Read Write Inc in your school the way the phonics handbook sets out you'd have all this info and more besides for every pupil on a 6 weekly basis.
    I'm purely a bystander but I feel that if this is a govmt priority they could do it differently e.g. they could make it part of an OFSTED inspection that school are seen to have some kind of regular phonics check in place like the RWI one, that the school records show individual children progressing at the pace of their decoding skills, that the strugglers are receiving more input etc etc.
    Just a thought that there could have been a more subtle approach rather than a one size fits all test that has taken a fair amount of time to define and specify, and that will cost extra public money to carry out each year.
  14. Fair enough, I can certainly say that the school I am in has those records and OFSTED are more than welcome to see them, as are the parents. Teachers keep records, for the reason that people have mentioned, otherwise you don't know where your children are and you then are doing them a disservice.
  15. If you mean that teachers will have to concentrate on teaching letter/sound correspondences and decoding and blending for reading then this can only be a good thing. When, at KS3 you are confronted with a sizeable chunk of each Y7 intake who don't know their correspondences, don't use decoding and blending for reading unfamilar words, guess any word they don't 'know' (which, as secondary texts become more complex, is rather a lot of them), believe that they are 'thick' because they find the 'linguistic guessing game' incredibly difficult and generally loathe reading, you find airy fairy notions about the 'joy of reading' completely laughable and wish devoutly that someone had bothered to teach them some good word attack skills in Early Years and beyond.
  16. Rubbish. Children who can read at age 6 (and to be honest, if phonics are rigorously taught this would be most of the cohort at the end of Y1) cannot possibly be familiar with the 250,000 or so words you'll find in a standard English dictionary. Any of the unknown words they encounter will have exactly the same qualities as the 'made up' words of the test. They will be completely unknown to them and will need to be decoded and blended in order to be 'read'. I know that the 'made up' words will have no 'meaning' but the test is not a comprehension test so the words don't need to have 'meaning'.
    And please do not start blathering on about 'decoding not being reading'. We all know that it isn't, but the more well informed among us know that you can't have 'reading' without decoding.
  17. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    A child should be fine to sit there and read made-up words ........ if they can't they've missed out or forgotten something vital. However, I would still question the need for all children to sit this one-size fits all test on the basis of it not being the most effective way of solving the problem it presumably has been brought in to solve.
    Presumably it has been brought in to identify children who are falling behind, and to force schools who are not already teaching synthetic phonics well, or are teaching it extremely slowly, to crack on with it so children can pass this test at the end of year 1.
    There are surely more effective ways of remedying those problems. This is a quick, but not particularly cheap, fix.

  18. When you count up the cost to the country, and the individual of illiteracy, I think you might think that money spent on testing at end of Y1 is well spent, if it leads to improved teaching of reading.
  19. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Sure it's probably better than not doing it, but why not consider some other ways of doing it if some money is available? Why was this the only answer? Or is it just the beginning of something and was the biggest step they felt they could take at this stage without causing uproar?
  20. The argument that schools and teachers should be accountable for children's progress has been won. My concern about the current proposals for a phonics check is that the notion of a national test centres on school performance. Children are already assessed regularly on their phonic knowledge using materials such as 'Letters and Sounds'. If we need additional resource it is in supporting those children who find reading challenging, even when rigorous synthetic phonics teaching is part of their daily experience in school. This test is a measure of school performance rather than a diagnostic tool. We want all children to become skilled lifelong readers. Where children find the process of learning to read difficult we need resources in school to support their teaching alongside a rich exposure to stories, non fiction texts and an environment where sustained talk is valued.

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