Phonics Check - press release
Sunday 8 April 2012
Commenting after the debate on Motion 34, Christine Blower General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers union said:
“The Year One Phonics Screening Check will tell teachers nothing that they do not already know about the reading skills of the children in their class.
“A pass/fail test for six year olds is wrong.
“The NUT’s own survey into phonics showed that over eighty per cent of teachers do not agree with statutory testing of phonics in Year one, and 84% believed that Reading for Pleasure is a far more important and relevant way to support children’s early reading. The Phonics Check with its pseudo-words is confusing for many children – including children who are more fluent readers.
“85 per cent of teachers said they were concerned about about the impact on five and six year old children of having to repeatedly retake the test if they failed it. As one respondent put it: “five years old is too young to fail”.
“This test is unnecessary and inappropriate for many children with special educational needs (SEN) and English as an additional language (EAL). Many schools are already drilling their pupils twice a day in the hope that the results when sent to RAISEonline will not trigger an inspection which will bring criticisms of their teaching.
“The fact that Ofsted is now inspecting the teaching of phonics in primary schools is a clear indication of the Government’s will to permeate its ideology and dogma about phonics teaching throughout the education system. Schools which do not adhere to the strict phonics teaching criteria will face the consequences on inspection day. In addition, Ofsted intend that it is ‘unlikely that any provider of primary initial teacher training will be judged as outstanding unless the quality of its phonics training is also outstanding’.
“It is vital that the methods we employ when we introduce young children of five and six years old to reading should bring understanding, reward and pleasure to them. Drilling children to pass a reading test will achieve the exact opposite.”