New test will teach five-year-olds to 'non-read', NUT warns
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Sunday 08 April 2012
Bright children will be branded as failures at the age of five as a result of a new national reading test to be introduced this summer, teachers warn today.
The test, to be taken by all five- and six-year-olds at the end of their first year of compulsory schooling, is designed to assess their word-decoding skills through phonics.
It will consist of 40 words – 20 real and 20 made-up ones. Parents will be told only whether their children have passed or failed the test.
In a pilot last summer, only 33 per cent of children passed. One reason for the low pass rate, says Hazel Danson, who chairs the National Union of Teachers' education committee, is that brighter readers try to make real words out of the made-up ones. For instance, they were asked to spell "osk", which many more fluent readers wrote as "ask".
"It looks very similar to 'ask', so children with more developed reading skills didn't get that word right, because they were applying higher-level reading skills."
Today, at the NUT's annual conference in Torquay, teachers will be urged to back a boycott of the tests – especially if there is any attempt to publish the results in school league tables.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, warns that if teachers were to coach children for the test, they "would be drilling kids in non-words".
"You will be teaching exactly the opposite of what you want them to do," she says. "You'll be teaching them to non-read." A survey of teachers by the NUT revealed that 84 per cent thought it was more important to teach children to read for pleasure than to pass the phonics test.
One told researchers: "The pass threshold is set so high that only around 33 per cent of children passed the pilot test... Five is too young to fail."
The Department for Education says the results will not be used in league tables but they will help teachers spot children who could otherwise slip through the net.
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence witness contradicts athlete version
Oscar Pistorius trial: The case against Oscar Pistorius – and why the prosecution claims his story doesn't add up
South Korea ferry: Captain Lee Joon-seok could face criminal investigation as over 280 remain missing
Peaches Geldof dead: Private funeral for the family and friends of the socialite will take place next week
Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 The Hobbit: There and Back Again set for possible title change
- 3 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building
£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: KS1 KS2 Crewe Teacher Perm Ch...
£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education is the lea...
£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: KS1 KS2 Teaching Cheshire
£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Long term position in large p...