Leading article: More spelling, less made-up phonics, please


The president of the National Association of Head Teachers is right that the Government is in danger of returning to the bad old days when schools focused more on tests and league tables than on pupils' needs.

Where Steve Iredale is wrong, however, is in singling out the proposed spelling, grammar and punctuation test for 11-year-olds. Given that as many as one in five children are not reaching the required standard of literacy, there is a strong argument for keeping a closer eye on progress.

Better, then, to balance out the introduction of an extra literacy assessment for those about to go off to secondary school, by axing the in-coming reading test for six-year olds. Not only does the controversial phonics scheme include made-up words as well as real ones – causing problems for some brighter children – but it also comes just a year before a set of national curriculum tests. The phonics test should go.