To not feel happy about 6 year old ds being 'tested' on fake words? Phonics.

(319 Posts)
OHforDUCKScake Thu 13-Jun-13 19:11:13

And is this something all year one pupils have to do?

So the children learn the phonics, 'oa' 'air' 'ng' and so on.

Now, the government, since last year, want to test them on it. If they get a certain amount wrong, they fail and have to do it again.

The thing is, the way they test them is to give them fake words to check they really do know their phonics. hmm

They will be given 20 real words and 20 fake workds and they have to get 34 out of 40 or their fail.

So, as long as they can read toast, fair, treat

As well as taim, roaf, rait

Then they will be ok.

I dont know where to start, honestly. First of all, testing them just so the government can see what the deal is, using them as guinea pigs it feels like. They are only 6!

Secondly, the weeks leading up to the test they have been teaching them fake non-words. hmm

A test? At 6? That they can fail?

I asked if we were obliged to do this? Teachers are, and parents are. I have no choice but to let my son have the bullshit test.

If AIBU then thats fine, but he is our first so we dont know the drill and he is already struggling in some areas so possibly a little more sensitive than usual to him being taught bullshit words and being tested on them.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Thu 13-Jun-13 19:15:02

YANBU at all. It is bloody absurd testing kids on nonsensical words. DAFT!!

Don't worry about the pass /fail thing. IMO that's a load of crap,too. Bottom line is whether your DC is coping with learning to read or not (But I am not a primary school practitioner so I may be completely off the mark.)

headinhands Thu 13-Jun-13 19:15:51

Do they tell the kids their result. Ours didn't. The idea of fake words is to quickly ascertain if they can use their phonics to decipher new words as it will be a word they haven't seen before.

MerylStrop Thu 13-Jun-13 19:17:30

It's ridiculous
And ironically kids who are better at reading are more likely to fail it
It is a test of the skill of applying phonics to reading
But it is intended to test and police the teaching of phonics, and not about supporting your child.
So doubly bollocks

headinhands Thu 13-Jun-13 19:18:11

Having worked in ks1 during the tests it was a non-issue for the kids as far as I could see.

thebody Thu 13-Jun-13 19:18:27

Hi op , reception TA here, totally agree with you. We do it for 4 year olds and I don't see the point at all to he honest.

Daft and confusing.

OHforDUCKScake Thu 13-Jun-13 19:19:40

I know exactly why they do it headin. And its rubbish. Pointless.

Surely them going up in books and writing improving etc shows that the method is working?

If they cant decipher it, it will come in time. Why do this?

Its utterly needless.

FreyaSnow Thu 13-Jun-13 19:20:23

I think it is really sensible. Kids come across words they don't know all the time and have to decode them. If they have a problem with decoding, the earlier they find out the better. It isn't the only way literacy is tested.

We all have to decode fake words - wookie, Frodo, Judoon.

Smartiepants79 Thu 13-Jun-13 19:25:16

Testing them at all is a load of nonsense.
However if you consider that thousands of 'real' words are meaningless to a six year old it is perhaps not such a silly idea.
They should not be learning the fake words, just the sounds that enable them to read them.
The test is really to check that phonics is being taught.

ReallyTired Thu 13-Jun-13 19:27:54

I think the nonsense word test is a good idea. It is one test where its actually benefical to teach to the test as it improves a child's knowledge of phonics.

The nonsense words test is not a reading test as such. It is testing to see if a pupil has mastered a particular skill that helps with reading.

Sometimes children with an excellent memory don't ever learn to blend words. This may not be a problems at primary school, but could cause problems in the future at university. Often very bright people with dyslexia get diagnosed late because they had excellent strageries in primary school.

I hope they keep the nonsense words test for six year olds. It is important that any problems like dyslexia in a bright child is picked up as early as possible.

starkadder Thu 13-Jun-13 19:29:46

I agree that it is totally stupid. Phonics is a means to an end. Surely it doesn't matter how they learn to read as log as they do learn? Silly silly and worse than silly to teach fake words.

starkadder Thu 13-Jun-13 19:31:02

Although reallytired makes a good point; hadn't thought of that. But still....

OutragedFromLeeds Thu 13-Jun-13 19:33:03

I don't know how useful it is, but I wouldn't get worked up about it.

The children are probably not going to know how they do on the test, for them it's just an activity.

My DC do this at their school, they think it's funny! They have some whiteboard thing where real words go in a treasure chest and made-up words go into a bin. It's one of the things they come out and tell me about. It's really never caused a problem.

At worst, it's a waste of his time, but he's 6 and wasting a few hours isn't really going to ruin his life. Chillax!

Awizardsstaffhasaknobontheend Thu 13-Jun-13 19:36:49

Oh and any year 2`s who failed it last year (a fail was under 32 out of 40), has to retake it again. This year they aren't telling us the pass Mark as apparently there were a lot with a score of 32 last year.

Altinkum Thu 13-Jun-13 19:37:35

I fail to see you're issue, they are sounding out the words and are testing them to see if they get thendofference between the sounds, for my speech delayed son, this would actually benefit him immensely.

Bobyan Thu 13-Jun-13 19:39:08

I couldn't care less.
My august born son has a reading age of 7. He's probably going to fail this test, but as no one has told him he's being tested, it's a non-event in his eyes. He's just going to be reading a list to his teacher.

Certainly nothing to get annoyed about!

SorryMyLollipop Thu 13-Jun-13 19:39:51

I think it's ridiculous! One of the vital reading skills is "self-correcting". So a child reads a word wrongly, recognises their error, and corrects it.

Part of this is the ability to recognise that some "words" don't sound right because they don't exist. This means that the pronunciation they have tried is wrong and they then try an alternative one to see if that results in a recognisable word.

This test undermines the pupils' ability to filter out incorrect pronunciation.

Also, bright children recognise that the fake words are wrong and feel silly saying them.

BlueberryHill Thu 13-Jun-13 19:40:52

I don't see the problem, my understanding of the way DS's school does it, they don't specifically teach to the test, just have normal phonics sessions. It also isn't made a deal of in class so the children aren't phased by it. If a child 'fails' it means that they need extra help with phonics at this stage. Isn't it a good thing to know it at this stage so they get some help now?

CloudsAndTrees Thu 13-Jun-13 19:42:00

I can see why parents think it's pointless, but I don't see a problem with it.

It ensures that children can decipher words they have never seen before. I don't think it matters if they are fake words, because learning words isn't the objective of this. At some point children will come across real words they don't know, and they will need to be able to apply their phonic knowledge to work out what it says.

BackforGood Thu 13-Jun-13 19:42:30

It does disadvantage the dc who are better readers, and are aware that it ought to make a word when they read something - only way around it is to make it really clear to those better readers that it is a daft test and let them know that there are loads of words in there that aren't words, but you just want to know what the sounds would say, written in that order.

goldenlula Thu 13-Jun-13 19:44:21

Lots of very good readers 'failed' this test last year as they cold not cope with the nonsense words so tried hard to change them to normal, proper words, therefore failing the test.

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 19:46:42

Phonics is my pet hate. So utterly ridiculous. Thank God it is not taught here at all (not in UK).

AlwaysDancing1234 Thu 13-Jun-13 19:47:26

I can see why you may feel anxious about this but in my experience in a Year 1 class the children don't realise they are being tested. They play a game where the made up word is shown next to an illustration of an 'alien' then they have to read what the aliens name is. Such as zog, flup, phoonoo etc. My son thinks its great fun!

littleducks Thu 13-Jun-13 19:49:15

I actually think it is a very good test, although I suppose somewhat depends on the presentation of the school. DD took it last year had no idea it was a test or her result (I got it on her school report).

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 19:51:30

Why muddy the waters by presenting a child with a load of made-up words? It is just silly.

BlackeyedSusan Thu 13-Jun-13 19:51:31

dd was in the first year tested. it worked well. there was only one way to guarantee that she was not using sight vocab... nonsense words, aka alien names.

Futterby Thu 13-Jun-13 19:56:17

Why not just teach kids real words?! AAGH drives me crazy! I'll be doing my utter best to teach my LO to read and write (to a degree) before he/she starts school just to, kind of, minimise the damage phonetics cause. I'm only four months preggo just now so plenty of time, I just hope they change the guidelines before then >.<

Littlefish Thu 13-Jun-13 19:59:37

What damage, Futterby?

Greythorne Thu 13-Jun-13 20:00:11


Thank goodness you will be preventing any damage from phonetics and not phonics. You sound like you are very well informed on the topic.

Pozzled Thu 13-Jun-13 20:01:19

YABVU. It doesn't seem to have been explained very well to you, OP. There should be no 'teaching of fake words'. What the teachers should be doing is to teach phonic decoding skills using a range of wordsand non-words.

As for the argument that bright 7 year old readers can't/won't accurately read words that they don't recognise- really? Really? So these bright, able readers presumably couldn't read words like:

All of which they are much more likely to encounter in a text before they hear them spoken.

I work with older children who don't have a solid grasp of phonics and it's bloody depressing seeing how hard they find it to access written texts.

I'm very very glad that the new test has been introduced.

Futterby Thu 13-Jun-13 20:04:31

FS greythorne, I'm on my phone. Seriously.

The damage phonics does to a child's ability to read is massive! I have no idea why you would teach a child fake words instead of trying to teach them the correct spelling of proper words. It's totally pointless and does more damage than good.

Littlefish Thu 13-Jun-13 20:06:13

Please could provide the source of your research Futterby.

TeenAndTween Thu 13-Jun-13 20:06:19


If this test had been around a few years ago it would have been picked up that my (now 13 year old) could not do phonics. If that had been picked up then and sorted out, she would now be able to decode (read) new words alot better than she can, and it would have helped her spelling.

Children have to be able to read words they've not come across before. The best way to ensure they haven't come across a word before is to use made up words. They are told they are made up alien words, and any phonetically plausible pronunciation is permitted.

Greythorne Thu 13-Jun-13 20:06:41

If a child has not encountered a word before, it is like a made up word. Think of "marsupial". Probably not a word most 5 year olds know. They need secure phonic knowledge to work out how to read it.

But, imagine some children do know how to read "marsupial" as they have been to Australia (or whatever). They might see the first few letter and then guess the rest.

So, putting an unusual word like "marsupial" in the test is still not a foolproof way of checking if children know how to sound, blend and read words.

Hence the made up words.

Zoggup and Futterby are words no child will have come across before and being able to decode them (sound, blend and then read aloud) allows the teacher to see how they are reading. Are they looking at the first letters and guessing? Looking for clues?

Strange to think that Futterby is so againts phonic training when her very name exemplifies why phonoc knowledge is so important in reading.

Greythorne Thu 13-Jun-13 20:07:49

Do you know what phonetics is? Or phonics?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CloudsAndTrees Thu 13-Jun-13 20:13:35

It really doesn't do any damage to teach phonics. Children know right from the start that there are words that don't follow 'the rules', and they can cope with both learning spellings, and learning phonics.

They are not taught made up words at all. They are taught the individual components that make up words, there is a big difference. Asking a child to read a made up word is no different to asking them to read a real word they have never come across before.

youarewinning Thu 13-Jun-13 20:15:56


However..... my DS is a late Aug baby so at the time he would have done these tests would have been 5. He did know them all and could read fake and real words.

Great............... hmm no! He STILL (at 8yo and year 4) cannot write well or use the phonics correctly in words.

He's just going through referals for AS......................... wish the governemnt would invest more in teaching teachers to recognise anomolies in children not jut if they can and can't memorise and use phonetics.

DonnaRoll Thu 13-Jun-13 20:25:00

My DS who is 6 and has SEN no longer reads using phonics. He has speech delay and he his struggled to learn to read using phonics. At school and at home is taught to read the whole word instead of breaking it down. Would he be tested on phonics? He is also going through dx for AS.

likesnowflakesinanocean Thu 13-Jun-13 20:32:19

ds is about to do this, at his school they call them earth and alien words he lovew working out which are real and which are fake. he is youngest in class age wise so will be under 6

Tiggles Thu 13-Jun-13 20:32:44

They are not put across as fake words, they are alien's names. Any child who reads (or has read to them) Roald Dahl for example should have no problem with nonsense words.
There should be no reason that a school has to push children through these tests, as if they teach phonics properly the children should pass them anyway.

bobthebear Thu 13-Jun-13 20:34:39

But they aren't 'being taught fake words'! They're taught phonics and the alien words are part of the check to make sure they understand the phonic components of words.

My DD will be doing the test. I'd like to think the school will use the results to see if there are any phonic sounds she needs to work on. My DD will love some 1:1 time with the teacher so will enjoy doing the test!

I really can't see the problem

HollyBerryBush Thu 13-Jun-13 20:35:42

It's a dyslexia test - fine, object if you want your child to go through school with out the systems in place to pick up LDs and support them should the need arise.

Rant away on MN instead of being a proactive parent and asking the school WHY this is taking place

thegreylady Thu 13-Jun-13 20:38:45

My dgs read 'strom' as 'storm' and when I suggested he looked carefully he replied,"Grandma it is a spelling mistake strom isnt a real word!" He is 6 and on 'gold' ORT so is reading isn't below average but I bet he will 'fail' that test.

ShadeofViolet Thu 13-Jun-13 20:40:29

I love the phonics test.

Only because my DS with SN got 36/40. He isnt toilet trained and cant dress himself but he is a whizz with phonics

<off topic stealth boast, but I dont care grin>

GibberTheMonkey Thu 13-Jun-13 20:44:27

I'm not sure about is how is it different to a teacher following each child's progress anyway.
They take a test, then what? They may have had a bad day that day anyway.
My dd took it last year. I don't know the result but I assume she failed as she was struggling with reading. Now I know that without that test, her teacher knew it so what good has it really done?

smokinaces Thu 13-Jun-13 20:45:27

Meh, my august born ds is one of top of his class, took this in his stride last year, the made up words were "alien names". He reads well, writes well, does phonics brilliantly, passed this test. Knew nothing really about it, was part of an phonics lesson like normal.

It's good for highlighting issues with phonics, teaching and learning. It's a non event for the student. Shame they have to tell parents its happening tbh as I think they make a bigger deal of this and ks1 sats than the kids ever do.

Euphemia Thu 13-Jun-13 20:49:02

Phonics is my pet hate. So utterly ridiculous. Thank God it is not taught here at all (not in UK).

Can you explain your views further please?

jamdonut Thu 13-Jun-13 20:49:50

When we are teaching phonics, a very popular game is "Buried Treasure". The "treasure" that is found either has a real word on it or a made up word, and the children either put it in the treasure chest or in the bin as a "rubbish" word. This can be played throughout the different phases. It checks whether the children are sounding out to themselves,and using the strategies they have been taught for decoding. We play versions of this on the interactive whiteboard, or sometimes use physical resources to play it. Kids seem to love this game.

smokinaces Thu 13-Jun-13 20:50:01

And phonics damages reading ability? Nope. Don't buy it. Ds1 and ds2 have both only ever learnt via phonics and at five and six are amazingly good readers.

Mumsyblouse Thu 13-Jun-13 20:52:39

This is not a comprehensive dyslexia test anyway, some children are poor at decoding phonics, some are poor at seeing the whole word once decoded, my daughter is great at reading these types of phonics words and passed the test, but struggles enormously with then trying to blend these or dealing with irregular words, she's stuck in phonics and cannot spell either. It's a very simplistic way of finding out a proportion of children having difficulty and I'm still to be convinced phonics suits every child although the research is quite persuasive that it gets good results for a cohort.

Joiningthegang Thu 13-Jun-13 20:53:20

My ds did this last year
Total non issue - he didn't mention it, school didn't mention it .
He didn't pass - no one cares

Joiningthegang Thu 13-Jun-13 20:54:37

When I say "no one cares" I meant that in a good way!

Auntlinny Thu 13-Jun-13 20:55:24

This is a long established element of the joy Alcock spelling scheme. It s nothing new and is such a tiny part of assessment that it is not worth getting irate about. For some children it shows a significant knowledge gap and can be useful for this alone.

jamdonut Thu 13-Jun-13 20:56:15

FWIW I can actually remember ,back in the early 70's,(having just started Junior school) being asked to read a VERY long list of words to the teacher,and being able to read the word 'pneumatic',which impressed her very much.wink

BlackholesAndRevelations Thu 13-Jun-13 20:57:55

Erm. Most children learn to read through learning how to segment phonemes and blend them to make a word. Teaching phonics is a pleasure as children start to crack the code; the feeling of pride and achievement is huge. Ime there is a small minority of children with specific learning difficulties who learn whole words.

So..... "phonics is my pet hate"? Why?

Futterby- do you even know what phonics is?

As for the test, it is no bad thing to test the phonemes they know/don't know, and their ability to blend. As teachers we assess all day every day otherwise we wouldn't be able to move any child's learning on. What'd the difference here?

As an educated adult, how many words do you come across that require the use of your phonic knowledge to decode? How many words do you read correctly but have to look up the meaning?

I know it's a government thing but honestly, teachers are up against so much resistance from parents. I just wish they appreciated how much effort, time, dedication and care goes into teaching their precious kids.

BlackholesAndRevelations Thu 13-Jun-13 21:01:07

Oh and yes the nonsense words are alien names! Children love it.

caroldecker Thu 13-Jun-13 21:06:04

It is also not just a way of identifying children who have an issue with phonics/reading. It also identifies teachers who are failing to teach it well as they will have a larger than expected 'failure' rate. This means heads can identify additional teacher training needs

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 21:06:44

It's a test educational psychologists have used for years, and is well-established.

As many others have explained so well before me, it just replicates children's experiences in tackling unknown words and checks that they have the necessary skills to do so.

Your school should be using non-words anyway as part of day to day teaching, and should also be assessing regularly. It's not a big deal, it's part of normal assessment that the school should be doing anyway.

Hulababy Thu 13-Jun-13 21:07:01

* It is not a new thing. It happened last year. There are many sample resources out there. Teachers know what they are doing.

* In my experience good readers all passed the test - they did at my school anyway, and at other schools I know of. To be a good reader you need to read the letters put in front of you (usually using phonics knowledge) - not try and guess what it might be.

* It is very obvious to the child if it is a real word or a pseudo word. They are told and pseudo words have a big colourful image next to them too, and they are reminded throughout not to try to make pseudo words into real words. Children will have experienced this kind of thing previous to the test.

* It is not a reading test. It is a phonics test. It tests how well the school is teaching phonics to their children.

* The pseudo words are not new to children. They will all have been using them since they first started phonics in reception. There are lots of games out there which many teachers use. Several well known books use pseudo words and good readers cope fine with them - Roald Dahl books anyone?

* The children shouldn't know it is a test. It is a few minutes 1:1 time with the teacher reading some real words and some silly alien words. It takes about 4 minutes per child. Children are very used to teachers doing little assessments with them and this should be no different. If it is more of a big deal in your child's school, this is something you should bring up with them direct. It is not how the phonics screening test is supposed to take place.

* Children who do not achieve the expected level in Y1 will redo the test in Y2, same time as Y1s do it. Again - no big deal made of it.

* Children shouldn't be told if they "pass" or "fail" though a child's mark will be given to parents and them told if they reached the expected level or not. It will not be general knowledge to pupils or other parents how well your child achieves

* If a child does not reach the expected level the school should address this and the child be given more support with their phonics.

* Also remember - many new words are "alien" to a child reading. They need to learn strategies, through phonic awareness, in order to establish what those words are.

It really is NOT a big deal, honestly. We had 91 children do it last year and it was fine. Not one child was upset or stressed about it. They all enjoyed their 1:1 time with a teacher, and loved getting an alien sticker afterwards smile

Euphemia Thu 13-Jun-13 21:07:50

As ever, because someone doesn't understand something they assume it must be rubbish. hmm

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 21:08:04

Good point, Carol - yes, schools such as my ds's who only taught phonics 3 times a week (badly) because of 'timetabling issues'. hmm

Kithulu Thu 13-Jun-13 21:12:29

There is a really lovely phonic's game that the children play on the interactive white board. They have to differentiate 'fake' and real words. Yr 1 play it regularly and they love it.

HumphreyCobbler Thu 13-Jun-13 21:13:58

Thank god some sensible people came onto this thread.

I just don't get the hostility towards phonics. People who know about teaching reading are positive about it. It is, in my experience, those who are wholly ignorant about it who are the most hostile.

bobthebear Thu 13-Jun-13 21:16:58

kithulu that sounds like the phonicsplay website

Playing with phonics is a good thing imo

HumphreyCobbler Thu 13-Jun-13 21:18:20

To the op - if your ds can read 'fake' words he will also be able to read unfamiliar words he has never heard or said before. That is the point of the test, to check their knowledge. To enable them to read. Which what all of us want.

morganster Thu 13-Jun-13 21:23:04

I thought it was useful really. It is after all how phonics work - I'm nearly 50 and I still break down words I don't know into sounds. It identifies those that need more help. My dc wasn't aware if they'd passed or failed. Or even that it was a test. They are often given lists of words to plough through for assessment purposes.

Kithulu Thu 13-Jun-13 21:23:43

game here you have to feed the real words to the blue alien and the fake words to the green one. Kids love the reactions of the aliens and take it in turns to use the touch sensitive white board. All good stuff.

BlackholesAndRevelations Thu 13-Jun-13 21:23:46

Yes- as mentioned many times, phonicsplay and letters-and-sounds have a range of games we play on our whiteboards which involve distinguishing real from made up words. Again, children love them. (look them up if you have a 4-7 year old child! grin)

Matsikula Thu 13-Jun-13 21:24:44

i think the reason lots of parents hate phonics is because it makes them feel excluded from their own children's education. It's the same with maths - what on earth is a number bond?

Unlike teachers we haven't spend years studying this stuff, so yes, of course we are a little resistant to the concepts. My son is starting pre-school soon and the whole Oxford Reading Tree business is filling me with dread.

BlackholesAndRevelations Thu 13-Jun-13 21:25:03

Cross posted with kithulu!

BlackholesAndRevelations Thu 13-Jun-13 21:26:55

Matsikula- why resistant? Why not interested? Keen to help your child? Eager to attend the numerous parent workshops run by schools to help parents feel involved in what we do at school?

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 21:28:52

The 'whole Oxford Reading Tree business' may well be sight reading. ORT has phonic strands, but some schools still don't use it.

Kithulu Thu 13-Jun-13 21:30:14

On a side issue...Mr Gove will probably come and screw this up soon as well, so don't worry too much. bitter

ParadiseChick Thu 13-Jun-13 21:32:17

It makes a lot of sense.

neolara Thu 13-Jun-13 21:32:21

My understanding is that this year the made up words will have a picture of an alien next to them so the kids are completely clear that these are nonsense words (alien names). This should avoid the issue of good readers trying to turn them into real words.

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 21:35:00

The administrator will also tell them. It's very, very clear.

lborolass Thu 13-Jun-13 21:40:00

As a parent I think this test is a good thing. Don't all of us automatically use phonics to pronounce words we haven't seen before. Even if you weren't taught by a different method isn't that the approach everyone uses with unfamiliar words or names.

My own DC didn't take this test as I believe it's fairly recent but I would have had no problem with it at all. Seeing it as being tested on fake words is missing the point.

Matsikula Thu 13-Jun-13 21:41:11

Blackholesandrevolutions - keen to help my child, and read endlessly to him as an activity we both love? Yes.

Keen to attend numerous workshops that will doubtless be held during school hours with the unfortunate effect of making working parents feel crappy about themselves? Afraid not.

I am not saying I am right to feel this way, but I do suspect I am very far from alone.

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 21:45:13

Numerous? Not really. We do one right at the beginning of Reception and parents say they are very happy.

PrincessScrumpy Thu 13-Jun-13 21:47:51

dd1 is a great reader in reception at the moment but I think she'll look at fake words, sound them out and try to make them real words. Basically I'm going to not be bothered about the test and how she does in it. Apparently the fake words have a picture of an alien beside them so they do know they aren't real but then that means they are spending learning time, learning how to pass a test rather than useful stuff. Anyway, I'll pay no attention as I know she can read, just like I'll ignore the nurse weighing thing as I know dd is healthy.

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 21:51:16

Apparently the fake words have a picture of an alien beside them so they do know they aren't real but then that means they are spending learning time, learning how to pass a test rather than useful stuff.

They are spending learning time learning how to read!

What a waste hmm

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 21:52:26

Once again, it's a check good schools do anyway. You know, to see what they know so we know what to teach them next? It's just part and parcel of normal, run of the mill assessment and every day teaching.

BlackholesAndRevelations Thu 13-Jun-13 21:53:33

Haha, numerous must just be my school then!! Granted a lot of them are in school time but we do plenty of evening ones too: reading, phonics, maths, writing, asd, etc. I just don't think "resistant" is the best way to feel... Can totally understand the feeling of being excluded and not understanding, but it wouldnt hurt to keep an open mind and be receptive to new ways of doing things trying not to patronise, and apologise if you feel I am! blush

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 21:54:35

dd1 is a great reader in reception at the moment but I think she'll look at fake words, sound them out and try to make them real words.

Is that what she does with all words she doesn't know then?

How will she ever learn new ones, if she tries to make all unknown words she comes across into real ones, do you think? She needs skills to tackle new words.

LondonJax Thu 13-Jun-13 21:54:54

DS does his test on Monday. Nothing has been mentioned to him or to us about it, it's just been put into the monthly diary sheet sent home from the school. They're not making a big deal about it at the school. But, out of interest when this came up on another thread a little while ago I 'tested' DS. Now, he's a boy who, when we were doing some cooking a couple of months ago, asked what bicarbonate of soda was - he'd read the packet. So he's, I think, a pretty good reader. I gave him a list of four words, two made up and asked him to read them. He read them, then said, those two are made up mum - pointing to the two I'd made up. These aren't words like bicarbonate, they are words like 'nos'- checking that the child understands that 'nos' is pronounced differently to 'nose' because of the 'e' at the end. Nos should be a word they don't recognise if they say it correctly.

If they say 'nos' as 'nose' it just shows work is needed. You can't go through life thinking 'nos' is pronounced 'nose' - but many children struggle with the end 'e' - I didn't understand the significance of the end 'e' in words like 'have', 'rose' etc until I had DS. No one at school had explained how it makes the vowel say its name rather than its sound. At school they just called it a magic 'e' and let us sort of figure it out - well that's going to work isn't it?! I managed because I had a good memory for the sound of words, so I picked up how I should say certain words but I didn't understand why words were pronounced the way they were. But now, after 40 years, I actually understand what that little letter does, for example, and I'm not stumbling over technical words or scientific words, which I used to.

So it's important to check that kids get this - now - it's grounding for every piece of language work they will do in their lives. As for should they be tested? I'm probably on the fence about that. DS has a spelling test each week and that's recorded in his books. I assume it's kept on his school files. I may feel differently after Monday depending on the outcome of his phonics test but I want to know that he understands how to work out what words say - not guess them, work them out.

BlueberryHill Thu 13-Jun-13 21:55:47

Matsikula, our school run these meetings, phonics, phonics test in Y1, moving from reception to y1, stats in the evenings. When I haven't been able to make them the teachers gave me a quick run through on a 1 - 1 basis. See what your school does and ask if it doesn't fit in with you, you won't be alone.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Thu 13-Jun-13 21:57:18

OhDucks If this Secondly, the weeks leading up to the test they have been teaching them fake non-words were the case I could see why you would be upset or annoyed - but it doesn't seem to be the case from what everyone else has said - what made you think it was?

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 22:00:15

Reading non-words should be a teaching strategy from day 1, not just for the few weeks leading up to the test. That would ring alarm bells for me.

Karoleann Thu 13-Jun-13 22:00:42

Ds1 was unfortunately ill on the day of the assessment last year.

headinhands Thu 13-Jun-13 22:02:02

I'd like someone to tell me one word that isn't technically 'made up'. Aren't all words made up?

Hulababy Thu 13-Jun-13 22:03:18

neolara - was the same last year too. The pseudo words had pictures of aliens next to them. They were described as alien words.

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 22:04:36

Ds1 was unfortunately ill on the day of the assessment last year.

There was a period of a week for the assessment, with an extension of another 3 days for children who were ill, iirc.

Hulababy Thu 13-Jun-13 22:07:09

Karoleann - school should have assessed him when he got back, or was he ill all week? If that was year 1, he will be assessed this year, as he will not yet have demonstrated that he is at the expected level in the phonics screening test.

waterlego Thu 13-Jun-13 22:08:27

I didn't understand the significance of the end 'e' in words like 'have', 'rose' etc until I had DS. No one at school had explained how it makes the vowel say its name rather than its sound.

But 'have' is unfortunately an exception to that rule, isn't it?!


As some other posters have pointed out, the assessment isn't testing the children, it's testing the schools to make sure they're teaching phonics correctly. And it has the added advantage of picking up where the children are struggling.

Of course, any school which is teaching phonics properly will already have worked out where each of their children are struggling and the official 'test' will just be one assessment amongst many.

We are lucky in that our DC's school teach phonics very, very efficiently although I think only around two thirds of last year's Y1s reached the pass level. However, it's a school in a disadvantaged area so they're dealing with some kids coming in at a very low level at nursery. It would actually be interesting to know what proportion only missed the pass level by a few marks though.

GibberTheMonkey Thu 13-Jun-13 22:10:39

Have and rose?

Hulababy Thu 13-Jun-13 22:10:56

Those again pseudo words and those against phonics....
Can you read these words?
How do you work them out?

a notmucher

These are just a few of the words Roald Dahl made up for his books. Many good readers will come across these words in RD books. They need to be able to work out a phonetically plausable correct word when they do.

CloudsAndTrees Thu 13-Jun-13 22:11:51

In my experience good readers all passed the test

That is my experience too.

I really can't understand why parents are getting their knickers in a twist because of this. It's a non event. It helps the teachers know where children need more input, and ultimately helps children to read!

AitchTwoOhOneTwo Thu 13-Jun-13 22:14:51

my dd was taught to read in a language she was only just learning, so i suppose all of her phonics were nonsense words in a way... she then taught herself to read in english because having been taught the skill of 'reading' she needed only to work out the new phonics.
i've been amazed at how brilliant phonics is.

PrincessScrumpy Thu 13-Jun-13 22:17:44

Okay fine, been had a go at and that's your view. dd is 5 and has just finished reading me Roald Dahl's The Witches so I guess we're not doing too badly. The wasting time teaching bit was about learning the words with alien pictures aren't real rather than learning reading being a waste of time, but I think you are just deliberately reading it like that.

LondonJax Thu 13-Jun-13 22:19:26

OK, 'have' was a bad choice but I'm not sure why the question mark against 'rose' Gibberthemonkey? Because you say the letter 'o' as it's name rather than as it's sound - otherwise written as 'ros'.

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 22:20:04

But that IS learning reading!

GibberTheMonkey Thu 13-Jun-13 22:21:32

You picked two words, talked about a rule yet those two words had opposite vowel sounds. No wonder people get confused by phonics.

GibberTheMonkey Thu 13-Jun-13 22:22:09

Out of interest why is have different? smile

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 22:25:32

There aren't really any rules, just tendencies really. Phonics isn't about teaching rules.

Hulababy Thu 13-Jun-13 22:25:46

PrincessScrumpy - the children do not learn pseudo words. That's the whole point of it. They are phonic sounds put together to make a pseudo word - a word that doesn't exist. The children don't need to learn how to read them. They just blend the sounds, which they already know from phonics, and just say the word that the sounds blend into. The alien is just there to remind them that they are just blending the sounds and saying it as it is, even if it is a word they don't recognise.

StripeyYogurt Thu 13-Jun-13 22:26:35

The best way to know a child has learned something is when they use it in the wrong way! eg "look at those sheeps" they have learned that plural words have an s on the end. And hopefully they will have never heard "sheeps" being used so they have applied teh rule themselves.

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 22:27:41

"If a child has not encountered a word before, it is like a made up word'

But it isn't.

LondonJax Thu 13-Jun-13 22:27:46

Why do we have knight, knife, knob? Even DS's teacher doesn't understand that one. And yes, I know what you mean Gibber but it's not just phonics that has confusing 'rules'. I was taught the classic 'I before E except after C' rule. Which is rubbish. Because 'science, sufficient, weird,foreign, their' and many more break that rule. And that's not phonic based.

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 22:29:44

"My understanding is that this year the made up words will have a picture of an alien next to them so the kids are completely clear that these are nonsense words (alien names). This should avoid the issue of good readers trying to turn them into real words."

I'm sorry, but I praise the fucking lord I got my kids out of the British education system.

Euphemia Thu 13-Jun-13 22:35:06

Why do we have knight, knife, knob?

They hark back to Old English, when the "kn" was pronounced as /k/ and /n/. The words were originally of Germanic origin; English pronunciation changed over time.

Euphemia Thu 13-Jun-13 22:36:06

I'm sorry, but I praise the fucking lord I got my kids out of the British education system.

Why? Which system of learning to read do you prefer?

AitchTwoOhOneTwo Thu 13-Jun-13 22:38:58

was that 'but that is learning reading' to me, Feenie? tbh i don't know much about it, am not exercised by it at all, it's worked really well for my child and i hope it will be the same for her sibling. i was just meaning that dd was unfamiliar with all the words she was learning at the time, that's all. we don't do the testing thing here, or officially at least. i think they scrapped it. (but it seems like a good tool to me).

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 22:40:51

You learn the letters, then you learn the sound each letter makes then you learn the first maybe thirty most commonly used words by sight, then you gradually develop the ability to sound out words as you go. I won't say where I live as it would probably out me but we score extremely highly in literacy compared with other oecd countries.

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 22:41:06

I'm sorry, but I praise the fucking lord I got my kids out of the British education system.

Yes, the bastards - teaching our kids how to read any word, and checking carefully using a test that has been proven to be an effective assessment tool for years and years.. hmm

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 22:42:54

"My understanding is that this year the made up words will have a picture of an alien next to them so the kids are completely clear that these are nonsense words (alien names). This should avoid the issue of good readers trying to turn them into real words."

You don't read the above and think 'that is just really stupid." Really? Really?

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 22:43:43

Your method works for 80% of kids here.

I am not happy to have one in five children unable to read in my school. So I read and research and found something that reaches nearly all instead. I've only met 3 children who failed to learn to read using phonics - all left us in Y6 to attend a special school.

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 22:44:40

In puts the skill into a context children enjoy, Yoni. You are not a child - it's not meant to appeal to you.

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 22:44:55

It. Bloody phone.

Euphemia Thu 13-Jun-13 22:46:41

Yoni No, I read your posts and I think you don't understand phonics teaching.

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 22:47:51

But Feenie if someone tried to teach my five year old 'trag' and 'yunk' She would say 'what does that mean?' And if I said 'It doesn't mean anything at all, those aren't actually words' she wouldn't enjoy it at all, she would be confused as hell.

pleiadianpony Thu 13-Jun-13 22:50:40

This sounds like a reading programme called 'toe by toe' that was originally used with people with literacy problems.
It's actually really effective. Older children I have known who have engaged with this have increased their reading age by a number of years over a really short period of time.

It uses fake words because it stops the reader guessing words. They have to read the letters and learn the sounds that different combinations of letter make.

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 22:52:41

I don't understand phonics teaching in the slightest, Feenie, because in my country there is no such thing. For which I am profoundly grateful.

EglantinePrice Thu 13-Jun-13 22:57:09

Such a bad use of time ime.

They are sending them lists of fake words home now (to practice for the test).

dd has recently made a real leap in her reading and has started reading 'chapter' books herself. I am not going to stop this and insist we sit down and read made up words.

Since starting reception the teachers have emphasised the importance of context and comprehension. Suddenly we are putting all that aside and just reading bollocks words.

Phonics is just one tool in the learning to read journey there are infinite exceptions and 'tricky' words this is unhelpful.

It may well pick up a few children who haven't got to grips with phonics. However I don't believe that the teachers don't know who those children are without having to spend time 'revising' for this test.

GibberTheMonkey Thu 13-Jun-13 22:57:55

I thought it was 'I before e except after c and only when the sound is ee.'

AudrinaAdare Thu 13-Jun-13 22:58:05

My autistic DS coped fine with the nonsense words, and as you can imagine, is extremely literal. At that age there are plenty of words which children haven't heard before.

They told us that they checked comprehension of the "real" words to make sure that he wasn't barking at print, although they may have done this because he hadn't actually demonstrated at that point that he could read in school and came out with score of nine point something. That's DS for you hmm

But if he could cope with it then surely an NT child can? I sometimes wonder if some of the people who are stressing about this are gutted that it's beyond their control to prepare and coach... Do these people not understand the point of diagnostic tests? They inform teaching and learning!

Phonics is bloody great. Didn't they have to abandon the Clackmannshire research because the control group were doing so poorly?

housework Thu 13-Jun-13 22:59:27

Phonicating has some annoying implications. DD's year 2 class has had to do another year of it because last years fails have to retake. My other irritation is that DD wants to spell everything phonetically. Her spelling is poor. I'd rather school were rigorous about correct spelling.DD can read,she doesn't need any more phonics lessons.

GibberTheMonkey Thu 13-Jun-13 23:00:14

What's the point if sending home fake words to learn? Doesn't that defeat the entire purpose?

AudrinaAdare Thu 13-Jun-13 23:03:32

Learning fake words? Fucking hell, I've heard it all now!

I must ring and find out what DS' exact score was. I will surely need it for his Cambridge application grin

EglantinePrice Thu 13-Jun-13 22:57:09

>>>> They are sending them lists of fake words home now (to practice for the test). <<<<

Sounds to me like this is one of the schools the test was introduced to weed out. If they'd been teaching phonics properly for the past two years then there would be no need for this. Looks like they've got a panic on at the last minute. sad

My advice, don't practice them at home and let the kids 'fail' the test. If the school get a low score they will then have to improve, which will be better for all of the kids in the long run.

Feenie Thu 13-Jun-13 23:06:11

But they're not teaching her 'trag' and 'yunk', they're teaching her out to READ trag, and yunk and any other word in existence. Difference.

What language? Would be very interested to know.

mummytime Thu 13-Jun-13 23:08:08

There are lots of "fake" words in the better reading books, eg. Names of Aliens. Most children can cope with no problem.
The bigger issue is that they are doing the testing, but not really giving schools resources to help the children who "fail" the test.

AudrinaAdare Thu 13-Jun-13 23:09:20

It shouldn't really surprise me that schools where pupils have interested and involved parents are trying to gain additional advantage by covert cheating. T'was ever thus.

EglantinePrice Thu 13-Jun-13 23:10:03

I'm certainly not stressing about it Audrina dd can cope fine. I just think its a poor use of class time - and mine.

We were sent around 80 fake words home over half term so are really being encouraged to 'coach' them. We read some real stories instead...

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 23:13:41

But I don't WANT her learning to read trag and yunk, Feenie. I want her learning to read actual words.

Language is English, btw.

AudrinaAdare Thu 13-Jun-13 23:14:00

You are clearly not one of the people I was referring to. Good for you smile

I once taught in a school where the year three's were marched out onto the field to practise for an upcoming party grin

waterlego Thu 13-Jun-13 23:14:03

The reason the 'rules' of English spelling and pronunciation are all over the place is because we have such a rich language with so many roots.

EglantinePrice Thu 13-Jun-13 23:15:12

I have no intention of doing them muddling. If anything this would have been more appropriate in reception when they were learning phonics.

I think they want to just make absolutely sure everyone passes by making sure no one is surprised/phased by the test. Hardly 'cheating'

AudrinaAdare Thu 13-Jun-13 23:16:41

Erroneous apostrophe phone fail.

That many words to learn shock My teenager doesn't get more than ten in French every week. I'd have said something to OFSTED about that.

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 23:19:16

Feenie, to respond to your earlier comment, about the 80%, I think that's exactly my point, if phonics is appropriate for the 20% who would struggle to read otherwise, why teach phonics to the other 80% Why teach to the lowest common denominator?

EglantinePrice Thu 13-Jun-13 23:20:34

OMG a party practice! Sounds like something out of N Korea!


Are you saying that they no longer do phonics in year 1? In our school the kids still do phonics sessions in Year 2, even for the top reading group.

Surely they shouldn't need to practice now to avoid being surprised in the test, nonsense words should be old hat by the end of Year 1.

AudrinaAdare Thu 13-Jun-13 23:23:57

Yes, it was!

"All shall make merry (in a sanctioned and controlled manner)

Under pain of detention"

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 23:24:09

Somewhat concerned now that my posts are coming across as if English is my second language grin. Perhaps I should drop the subject!

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 23:19:16

>>>> if phonics is appropriate for the 20% who would struggle to read otherwise, why teach phonics to the other 80% Why teach to the lowest common denominator? <<<<<

Because the 80% will learn to read by both methods, but the 20% will only learn with phonics. Surely you use the system which is the most effective.

And the 80% will end up using phonics anyway, it's just that they would probably work them out for themselves.

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Jun-13 23:28:16

That does seem logical. I would just hate my kids coming home from school saying 'kih ahh tih' spells cat. It would drive me bonkers to have everything dumbed down so much.

EglantinePrice Thu 13-Jun-13 23:30:43

Muddling Yes whilst they do phonics still in year 1 it seems to be a small tool in the process of learning to read. There seems to be lots of emphasis on enjoyment, comprehension, context discussing the story etc.

Whereas reception seemed much more strongly to be about learning phonics.

IYSWIM. At this stage it feels like a backwards step.

I agree I don't think they should practice nonsense words at all. I don't recall them doing it previously though so perhaps they are trying to familiarise the children with lists of nonsense.

My feeling is time could be much better spent.

MrsGSR Thu 13-Jun-13 23:33:31

Where I live they stopped teaching reading with phobics for a few years, I was just leaving school as these students were starting secondary school and the majority of them couldn't read beyond the level of a 7 year old. They introduced paired reading schemes with the 6th formers to try and help them improve.

In my experience phonics is very successful and i think anything that encourages it should be welcomed. I do think it might help to maybe give parents a letter explaining phonics so they understand it and can help their kids more.

Those who say better readers will try to make the non-words into real words, do they do the same with words they don't know? At 6 and 7 I doubt they know every word so if so this needs to be addressed.

TuftyFinch Thu 13-Jun-13 23:41:56

I know the person who devised the 'phonics test', it was never meant to be a test but a screener to check for pupils who may have 'slipped through the phonics net' to ensure they were given targeted help.
My DS is in Y1, I don't know if he's had the 'test' yet, nor does he. It is not made a big thing of in his school and the pupils certainly aren't aware they are being 'tested'.
I have heard though that the pass/fail rate of the test can trigger an Ofsted visit so that's more added pressure on teaching staff.
I don't think it's a bad thing used correctly but if pressure is being put on 6 YR olds and they have an awareness it's a test then that's wrong and bad practice.

MagicHouse Thu 13-Jun-13 23:56:27

The trouble is, phonics teaching is a part of learning to read - but just a part. When we teach reading (actual reading I mean - not just isolated words) we teach the children to actively use all sorts of tools to help them access a new word (look at the pictures/ think of the context/ use the sounds.... if they say a word that doesn't make sense we might say "does that make sense.... what might fit there?) The trouble is, in phonics sessions we are "teaching" the children to simply attack the word using sounds, but in their reading we are teaching something different - in fact NOT to over rely on phonics. That's where the difficulty lies with this test.

Aside from the fact that, as has been pointed out on here, lots of words don't actually fit all the "rules" (have, tear - which could be pronounced "tair". How about "ue" - can be oo as in blue, or you as in due etc etc). Ok, so we teach all the "alternatives", but imagine how confusing that begins to get in our language! Last year's test also had "real" words that some children had never heard of, like "shrubs".

Despite this, most teachers will run this test as a low key activity, and not worry about the results for individual children. Support is given to those who need it. (All of those children will have been identified already before this test).

Euphemia Fri 14-Jun-13 06:36:23

It would drive me bonkers to have everything dumbed down so much.

See this is where you show your ignorance.

How on earth is making explicit the relationships between letters and sounds dumbing down?

Would you rather children learned letters' names rather than the sounds they represent?

Why is telling children that the first letter of the alphabet is called "ay" better than telling them that the letter represents the sound "ah"?

BlackholesAndRevelations Fri 14-Jun-13 06:41:32

They are not LEARNING nonsense words. They're learning the strategies and processes of reading. I haven't sent home nonsense words but I have sent home "buried treasure" type activities- and not just recently in a panic about the test.

Has op come back on here to see her responses?

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 06:48:46

Magichouse, please don't tell everyone that 'we' teach children to guess words using picture cues because you can speak for yourself - most of us know that the searchlights model you describe is discredited in research and actually damages weaker readers.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 06:52:44

You also seem to be very confused re the teaching of the alphabetic code - some up to date training would help you teach the alternative spellings you describe - children taught this well cope very easily and are not confused.

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Fri 14-Jun-13 06:59:03

"Would you rather children learned letters' names rather than the sounds they represent?"

I would rather they learnt both. Oddly enough.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 07:00:30

Yoni - because you have no way of knowing which children will fall into the 20% until it's too late and you have to also pick their self-esteem off the floor, which takes much longer than correcting the teaching which led the confusion for those 1 in 5 children - who could be anyone, regardless of ability or whether they have been read to since the day they were born or not.

But using phonics to teach decoding damages no one, apart from the teachers who still don't read the research, stick to outdated methods, shrugging and saying 'some children will always be confused', instead of finding out what works properly.

Makes me cross. [cross]

xylem8 Fri 14-Jun-13 07:00:40

it is a screening test like a hearing test _ do you object to your children doing that too? Some children memorise a huge bank oe words and their inability to decode only becomes apparent much later on.without using nonsense words how do suggest isolating de coding skills . In my experience teachers tell the kids they are made up words io fact at our school they told then it was robot language and asked them he they could read any robot words

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Fri 14-Jun-13 07:02:57

Perhaps I haven't expressed myself very clearly. I would not want my kids saying cat is spelled kih ahh tih because it isn't. It shouldn't be too hard for a moderately able child to learn that the letter is called J and the sound is juh. I have heard of kids being taught the sound the letters make and not the names of the letters as it is seen as too complicated and I think that that is dumbing down.

conorsrockers Fri 14-Jun-13 07:05:13

YABU - it's a system that works. And how on earth do you think they can make sure the kids are learning what they need to learn if they are not tested?! blush

hackmum Fri 14-Jun-13 07:08:28

It seems ridiculous to me. For a start, yes, as somebody said earlier, it does muddy the waters.

Second, phonics is a useful strategy, but only up to a point. There are lots of situations where it doesn't much help - look the different pronunciations you can have of words ending in "-ough", for example. Only a couple of weeks ago there was a lively debate on one Mumsnet thread about how you should pronounce the word "bowed". At some point the child who has learnt to read using phonics is going to come up against a whole load of words that don't follow the pattern.

Third, and most importantly, lots of children can't read at six. It's not because they're badly taught or not very bright - it's because they just haven't picked it up yet. Reading is one of those things that children learn at vastly different rates - some perfectly bright children don't get the hang of it till they're about 8.

mirai Fri 14-Jun-13 07:12:42

Feenie could you point me in the direction of such research please? I'm just starting out in teaching phonics and it'd be good to know some strategies to teach all the exceptions!

Thanks smile

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 07:13:26

At some point the child who has learnt to read using phonics is going to come up against a whole load of words that don't follow the pattern.

Very, very few words do not follow the alphabetic code. Again, this shows a lack of understanding as to what phonics is.

Alphabetic code

It is complex, and needs teaching well. It is far from dumbing down! Most of us who were taught using sight methods use it, but we worked it out for ourselves. Teaching phonics arms all children with this knowledge.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 07:15:23

Which research, mirai - how to teach phonics, or which strategies make weaker readers struggle? The above link is a helpful start with the former.

BlackholesAndRevelations Fri 14-Jun-13 07:23:04

Exactly, feenie: those of us who have done well in life have generally taught ourselves the strategies that we are now teaching everyone in order to make sure as many children as possible pick up basic skills.

"have" is a "tricky" word that is taught as such. Some words can't be sounded out, and this is one. There is a list of 100 high frequency words that we teach alongside phonics, some if which can be decoded and others that can't, such as "have".

Good teaching includes letter names too, by the way. Our foundation stage children learn "the name is A (ay) and the sound is a (ah)".

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 07:23:46

Mirai - - this page is another good start for research links and help.

Also try

BlackholesAndRevelations Fri 14-Jun-13 07:24:46

Oh and we teach the spelling of tricky words using letter names as they can't be sounded out.

MrsHoarder Fri 14-Jun-13 07:29:26

Yoni I didn't learn the names of letters until year 2 which was standard then. Its not dumbing down, is incrementing knowledge gradually so pupils can become familiar with the sound then add the name of the letter.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 07:32:25

That's not what Letters and Sounds recommends, Blackholes - they should be taught as partially decodable with a 'ticky bit', i.e. a correspondence which they haven't yet been taught.

e.g. s - ai - d

Here 'ai' is code for the /e/ phoneme, but /s/ and /d/ are phonemes the children know at this stage. So no need to use letter names only - and not quite true to say they can't be 'sounded out'.

OHforDUCKScake Fri 14-Jun-13 07:42:20

cornor rocks, they managed for years and years and years and years to know that their method was working. They started this 'test' last year.

The child moving up in reading books is just one way of knowing they are progressing and able to read phnoics.

Do you seriously believe tests are the only way you can see a child is progressing? How very odd. hmm

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 07:44:53

OP, this check is used on a day to day basis by good schools anyway - the national element makes sure that poorer schools also use it, but they damn well ought to be checking the children's decoding skills anyway. This check ensures ALL schools teach properly and pick up the children who need better intervention.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 07:46:18

Do you seriously believe tests are the only way you can see a child is progressing? How very odd.

It's a check - teacher assessment. Do you imagine teachers don't use this, day to day to, you know, actually find out what they NEED to teach, and what the children already know? How odd. hmm

mirai Fri 14-Jun-13 07:46:53

That is fantastic Feenie - thanks

GibberTheMonkey Fri 14-Jun-13 07:52:24

I suspect a better way (maybe alongside phonics etc) to teach children to read is to teach them to speak properly first.
(Yesterday was a bad day when it came to this)

CloudsAndTrees Fri 14-Jun-13 07:52:54

Of course tests aren't the only way to see if a child is progressing!

But the phonics testing breaks it down and is a tool for teachers to identify exactly where some children need help.

The fact that this phonics test exists doesn't mean children are not also taught letter names, tricky words and spellings of words that don't follow any rule. It's just one part of a bigger picture.

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 08:00:50

Blackholes You are showing a lack of understanding of phonics.

'Have' is perfectly decodable- h-a-ve. My DD1 is not yet 5 but has been decoding that word for months. She knows at least the top 300 high frequency words by sight now- but I think the only ones I taught to her 'by sight' we're 'I' 'the' and 'one'. All the others she practised decoding using her phonics skills until she knew them (sometimes with help for the 'tricky' bits, but not nearly as often as people seem to believe).

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 08:01:03

It's like saying 'do you seriously believe that sitting down for 5 minutes devoting one to one attention with a one child will find out how they are progressing? How odd'


ShinyPenny Fri 14-Jun-13 08:48:32

I have no idea why anybody would get themselves into a tizz about this.
It's just to try to spot who might need a bit of extra help with reading. That's all. It doesn't go on their UCAS bloody forms.

hackmum Fri 14-Jun-13 09:15:57

"It's just to try to spot who might need a bit of extra help with reading."

But wouldn't teachers know this anyway? If they have to wait for an end-of-year test to spot who needs a bit of extra help, they're really not doing a very good job.

And are you completely sure it won't be used by Mr Gove to say, "In 25% of schools, only half the six-year olds passed the phonics test, it's absolutely disgraceful, teachers aren't doing a good enough job"?

eccentrica Fri 14-Jun-13 09:32:32

AsLondonjax unfortunate example of 'have' to demonstrate the 'magic E', er, rule and the 'kn' words above show, English is not a phonetic language. Which is where it all falls down.

How does phonics help you with the following words?


MrsHoarder Fri 14-Jun-13 09:46:28

hackmum unfortunately Gove doesn't understand statistics: possibly a gap in his own education.

As for the "need" to understand phonics, if a child can only recognise whole words, how on earth will they cope with secondary school chemistry?

MrsGSR Fri 14-Jun-13 09:54:40

hackmum I think for the most part teachers do know which students are struggling, but some children can hid it when reading normal books, either by looking at the pictures or guessing using the rest of the sentence. This 'test' would show if they were struggling. In good schools the students won't even realise it's a test.

KMPnuts Fri 14-Jun-13 09:58:39

If this test was purely to inform teachers of which sounds the kids had got and which needed more work then great...but the fact they kids have a pass/fail grade means its just another government league table. I teach F2s and Yr 1s and although the kids have no clue what they have done (stickers and aliens are always fun) it is stressful for the parents who think their kids are failing at 5 or 6!!! And yes, it is true that the better readers are actually more likely to fail as by 6 they are already reading for sense not just purely decoding. Most teachers know their kids really well and do check ups like this regularly, it doesn't have to be so stressful!

OHforDUCKScake Fri 14-Jun-13 11:33:50

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

AitchTwoOhOneTwo Fri 14-Jun-13 11:41:10

not the worst personal attack i've seen on here but still unnecessary.

eccentrica Fri 14-Jun-13 11:45:51

Anyone? Any defenders of phonics want to explain how it helps you with the list of words above? Enough/cough/tough/through etc.

Or how about:

Not exactly an obscure list of words. More like the real building blocks of English. English is not a phonetic language. Phonics might help with some very basic words like 'dog' and 'cat' but beyond that it is misleading and a waste of time.

By 6 years old many children are reading proper books independently - I remember reading Swallows and Amazons at 5 (don't think I understood most of what was going on but the words weren't a problem).

When it comes to English, phonics has very little to do with "strategies and processes of reading". The kids who can read and spell fluently are the ones who read books, because they learn words. Throwing a load of nonexistent words into the mix is pointless and confusing. Especially when the test relies on 6-year-olds knowing words like 'shrubs'!

As someone said above, phonics and associated tests are no doubt useful tools when it comes to working with/identifying students with specific learning difficulties/SEN, but a total waste of time at best, and actively misleading at worst, for the majority of the others.

ProudAS Fri 14-Jun-13 11:51:06

A few facts about the phonics check:

It is not published in performance tables
There is no need for children to know that they are being tested
Use of pseudo words allows teachers to identify children who have not mastered phonic decoding but have a good visual memory for words
Alternative pronunciations are allowed in the case of pseudo words (for example 'zow' could rhyme with either 'blow' or 'cow')

Maybe schools shouldn't need it to identify which children are struggling with phonic decoding but it seems that some do.

KMPnuts Fri 14-Jun-13 12:00:15

It may not be publicly published but the powers that be still give us targets to meet and they have been upped from last year due to the performance of different areas/schools... It is NOT just an exercise to inform where to go next with the children, which is what it should be. The authorities are only interested in the pass/fail. I am interested in the sounds that need more focus. Phonics is great and can be lots of fun but its NOT the only way we teach reading/writing...the whole point is we teach as many skills as possible so that children are able to find their own way of making sense of our unbelievably complicated language.

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 12:08:25

Ok, eccentrica.

Your second list: why on earth would you think phonics doesn't help?

Gave/have- 'ay' and 'a' are both alternative pronunciations for the letter 'a'. Children may have to try out both alternatives, but that is easier than learning the whole word by sight.

Threw/through- both perfectly decodable once you know that 'ew' and 'ough' are alternatives for 'oo'.

Same with site/sight- very easy to decode for reading.

Ditto with bent/meant, ditto with shower/slower/hour- very easy to decode when you understand the possible pronunciations of 'ea' and 'ou'.

Same with 'said/paid'.

Spelling these words is more tricky, admittedly, but phonics is still very useful. With words like bent/meant there really aren't many alternatives, and children will be taught to find patterns and group words together that have similar spellings.

Your first list: Yes, these words are often pointed out as if they show that phonics is useless. But there are still alimited number of ways of saying the 'ough' spelling. And it's quicker to learn these alternative ways than it is to learn by sight every single word that contains 'ough'.

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 12:14:18

Oh and also, eccentrica I'm fairly sure that my DD does not have any SEN or particular learning needs. However, I've been teaching her using a strict phonics based approach,and she is way ahead of most of her class in reading (her school uses mixed methods). She is also an August birth. Of course this is anecdotal and could be a complete coincidence. But your assertion that phonics is 'a total waste of time at best' for the majority certainly doesn't fit my experience.

SarabiDog Fri 14-Jun-13 12:23:46

And yet despite the uselessness of phonics eccentrica, I can can correctly pronounce floccinaucinihilipilification and antidisestablishmentarianism. I can also work out the names of diseases I have never heard of and read latin and german out loud.

Phonics is the basis for an understanding of how English works as a language - the fact it's not the be-all-and-end-all doesn't make it useless.

MrsHoarder Fri 14-Jun-13 12:31:54

Don't forget reading eccentrica. Couldn't read a forum without being able to interpret made-up words.

I haven't read the whole thread so apologies if this has been mentioned.

My sons may well be dyslexic (awaiting Educational Pyschologist assessment). We've worked through one of the programmes designed to help struggling readers called Toe by Toe. It uses these sort of nonsense decodable words to assist in teaching phonics skills and it does seem to work.

I see no problem with this test. Improving their decoding has allowed my sons to read most of the words they need to be able to read at their age.

eccentrica Fri 14-Jun-13 12:33:27

The 'limited number of ways' to pronounce -ough includes

oo as in through
uff as in tough
off as in cough
ow as in plough
oh as in though

So when a child encounters a word using 'ough', they should run through every one of those, rather than say, the way that people actually learn to read naturally, which is by knowing the words?

"And it's quicker to learn these alternative ways than it is to learn by sight every single word that contains 'ough'."

funny, because I know how to read every one of them,and I've never wasted a moment of my life sitting there rehearsing at least 5 alternative pronounciations for each one.

You say "shower/slower/hour- very easy to decode when you understand the possible pronunciations of 'ea' and 'ou'."

Sorry, could you expand on that please? It doesn't make any sense to me. How would you know whether to pronounce 'shower' as ow-er or oh-er unless you know the word?

I was also an August birth and learnt to read by reading books. If the school's method works, why are you giving her extra tuition? And what about the children whose parents aren't able to augment what sounds like inadequate teaching?

English is a non-phonetic language full of irregular verbs and other words that don't follow rules. Why are we trying to teach children their native language in a way which foreign learners find impossible?

Two questions:
1. Are you claiming that you never heard the word 'antidisestablishmentarianism' before you read it? That seems extremely unlikely to me given that you would have to be reading something pretty obscure on the subject of church and state to read it, whereas it is very frequently said as a comedy example of a long word.

2. How do you know you're pronouncing 'floccinaucinihilipilification' correctly? Have you sat with a dictionary working out the phonetic symbols? How do you know, for example, if it's 'norci' or 'nokki'?

eccentrica Fri 14-Jun-13 12:35:10

Incidentally 'floccinaucinihilipilification' is a poor example anyway, as it's predominantly a Latin word. Unlike English, Latin is a phonetic language (even if we don't have much idea how it was actually said by Romans).

eccentrica Fri 14-Jun-13 12:36:11

And so is German, so really I'm not sure how you think your ability to read those other, phonetic languages aloud has any bearing on whether phonics is helpful for the majority of children learning English?

My sons won't learn through reading books and couldn't have read Swallows and Amazons aged 5. If these tests pick up those children who are having problems in reading then that is a good thing.

When they were little they appeared to be able to read well because they had memorised the books rather than being able to decode the words.

Reading really doesn't come naturally to some children and phonics helps them access a vital skill. It may not work perfectly in the English language but for children like my sons it is a vital tool.

SoupDragon Fri 14-Jun-13 12:45:25

Some posters seem spectacularly ignorant about how phonics work.

As for the horror of testing children, it's not new. I remember having my reading age tested at school - actually up at the front of the class with the teacher whilst classmates got on with work. Everyone knew it was a test and everyone knew you were taking it. In complete contrast to how this phonics test seems to have been run since DD never mentioned it at all.

I remember being worried about DS1's reading when he started primary. By the end of reception, he could barely read - I was v good reader early on and this concerned me. Halfway through Y1 he could read pretty much anything and was tackling Narnia (ooh! Made up word!). All the building blocks provided by the phonics fell into place and he was off.

He had basically been taught how to read anything, not just to read certain words.

MrsHoarder Fri 14-Jun-13 12:54:26

eccentrica what do you do when your DC come across a word they don't know? Glancing at DS's bookshelf, maybe age 6 they pick up a Paddington book, or they read something about dinosaurs or maybe come across the word broccoli written down for the first time. Do you really just give them a whole word, or do you use the phonetic components of the word so they can sound it out until they learn it.

Of course fluent readers reading words they know recognise whole words, but everyone needs the skills to read "new" words. I don't know about you, but I don't know every word in the English language yet, and am reminded of this by the word of the day.

eccentrica Fri 14-Jun-13 13:02:22

Chaz that's great if it works for students who have unusual difficulties with reading but that doesn't mean that it should be used across the board nor that it should take up teaching time for the whole class. This is why children with SEN are often entitled to a teaching assistant.

Soupdragon Narnia is no more 'made up' than Albania, England or any other word you care to mention. There is a distinction between words that do and don't exist in the language. Who invented them and why is irrelevant.

I don't remember any testing, in front of the class or otherwise, at primary school.

MrsHoarder my daughter is only 2.9 so my experience of this is more academic than parental. My daughter so far is doing exactly what I remember doing myself, i.e. she knows her letters, also knows several books more or less off by heart, and is just starting to put the ideas together (she knows what letter her name starts with, and mine, for example), and picks out letters in book titles and words she knows.

Of course phonetic 'sounding out' has a role when encountering new words but it's notable how often it fails. My partner is a very bookish type (even more than me) and he'll often say a word that he pronounces wrong because he's never heard it said, but has only read it. It's interesting how many times 'sounding out' fails, even for an educated 30something who could probably make a good stab at working out the etymology.

diddl Fri 14-Jun-13 13:03:13

Just waded through the 8 pages & sorry if already mentioned-but what happens if they "fail"?

Extra help, held back a year, Uni prospects gone forever ?

Reading difficulties aren't unusual just because you didn't have them. The estimate is near 10%+ of the population. My children don't need a teaching assistant but they do need a method of reading that helps them understand the "code" of the language.

MrsHoarder Fri 14-Jun-13 13:14:25

eccentrica what else do you suggest for encountering a new word? Once past infants children can't (or won't) ask every time they don't recognise a word, they need to have some tools to handle it. Phonics is a big part of this, hence needing to get it taught well before children move onto "silent reading" and more comprehension-type activities in their reading.

diddl if they "fail" then they should receive additional help. I'm sure a yr 2 teacher/parent will tell you if that actually happens. Being held back a year doesn't happen in the English/Welsh system (see 10000 threads in Primary about wanting to put summer born children in the year below).

eccentrica Fri 14-Jun-13 09:32:32

>>>>> How does phonics help you with the following words? <<<<

Let's see.

- Plough /p/ /l/ /ow/

- Through /th/ /r/ /ew/

- Though /th/ /oh/

- Cough /c/ /o/ /f/

- Enough /e/ /n/ /u/ /f/

- Trough /t/ /r/ /o/ /f/

- Although /a/ /l/ /th/ /oh/

So in Plough the 'ough' represents an /ow/ sound

in Through the 'ough' represents and /ew/ sound

and in Though it's an /oh/ sound. Three different words and three different sounds, but kids can cope with that.

with cough, enough and trough, cough teaches them that the 'gh' can represent a /f/ sound, so when they get to 'enough' and 'trough' they can try that sound along with the alternatives they already know for 'ou' to see if they can come up with a word they might recognise. And for although they've already come across though and just need to work on the extra sounds in front.

My kids' school does Jolly Phonics, so when my kids encountered words like that that were new to them, if they got a little stuck I would say, for example, "the 'gh' is a new one, the g and h in this word make a <does action for /f/ sound>" which would make them work out the sound with a little help and they would then add it to their list of sounds to try for those letters.

AaDB Fri 14-Jun-13 14:10:09

I really couldn't care less what the individual or class results are. I don't care if DS (6) gets 100% or fails. School informed us this was happening in March and sent home a sample of what the test could look like. 40 words would take my DS about 3 mins to read. If school can gain an understanding of how the class/ their approach is doing, then fine.

He learns using Read Write Inc/ phonics at school and I taught him the way I learnt.

eccentrica Fri 14-Jun-13 14:25:30

Chaz While I appreciate that it works for your kids, anything which affects "near 10% of the population" IS unusual. I was in the vast majority, over 90%. I think it is very questionable that over 90% of children should spend time learning in a way that doesn't work for them. As a previous poster said, phonics and the test were designed for children with difficulties reading, not to be applied to everyone else.

Muddled I've read your post three times and I find it almost incomprehensible. "if they got a little stuck I would say, for example, "the 'gh' is a new one, the g and h in this word make a <does action for /f/ sound>" which would make them work out the sound with a little help and they would then add it to their list of sounds to try for those letters." ??? Feel sorry for little kids learning this way.

More importantly I find it very concerning that all the parents on this thread whose kids are learning to read through phonics are supplementing this with additional reading lessons at home. This did not happen when I was at primary school. I did not know ANYONE whose parents had to give them extra reading lessons. In fact most of the kids were learning second languages (Gujurati, Swahili, Hebrew, Arabic) by age 6 or 7.

Clearly phonics is not working very well for the majority of children. What happens to all of those whose parents don't have the spare time or inclination to make up for what they're not learning in school?

EglantinePrice Fri 14-Jun-13 14:28:41

eccentric IMO parents are doing extra reading at home because there is less done in school (than when I was at school 30 years ago). Due to larger class sizes and other demands on teachers.

eccentrica Fri 14-Jun-13 14:28:42

Incidentally are 'Jolly Phonics', 'Read Write Inc' etc. all brand names? So there are a load of companies making money out of this too?

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 14:29:10

Again, I've only met 3 children who definitely couldn't learn using phonics, and why would you leave children to work things out for themselves and just hope for the best?confused

AudrinaAdare Fri 14-Jun-13 14:35:25

Oh, I remember reading tests. Stand by the teacher's desk and read the "sounds" written in her book and they were ticked off if you knew them.

When I started college in the nineties it was common for children to be given the Hertfordshire reading test which measures reading age. This was done three times a year and the results would go on reports.

I once did work experience in the class of a teacher of who had an extremely good reputation for getting results. Amongst other things, she used to give the children the opportunity to learn the words they had missed in the reading test so that by the end of Year Six their reading ages had improved enormously hmm

MrsGSR Fri 14-Jun-13 14:35:37

eccentrica which method would you prefer be used to teach reading?

In my experience phonics works for the vast majority of children. As I said before when 'sight reading' was taught for a few years students reading levels plummeted.

katykuns Fri 14-Jun-13 14:39:47

Only read the first page of posts...

I was like you OP, I hate the idea of actual tests on children so young, I also dislike the fact the school only teaches phonics and no other techniques. I have tried the 'look and say' approach and have seen a noticeable difference in my daughter picking up on words when reading.

However, the school made no fuss of the test, they also didn't show the children their results. We got them sent to us in an envelope. I think I would have actually complained if they had given out results, as my daughter's confidence in reading is already low.

The test has had absolutely no impact on her life in Y2, or on her at all. So in the grand scheme of things, it really didn't matter.

ReallyTired Fri 14-Jun-13 14:49:19

Reading difficulties are on a continium. A child has to have quite severe special needs to be entitled to a TA or a place at special school. Not being able to read is not a reason for being statemented in year 1.

A very bright child with dyslexia may not have their reading difficulties picked up early. There is little provision for practicing reading in juniors or secondary where the class are learning other stuff. Its often a science lesson where the lack of phonics ablity makes life difficult and the child becomes distruptive because they cannot access the learning.

When you consider all the time that is wasted in a school day or other things (ie. taking the register, assembly, fire drill) , does it really hurt to do some phonics?

SoupDragon Fri 14-Jun-13 14:50:12

More importantly I find it very concerning that all the parents on this thread whose kids are learning to read through phonics are supplementing this with additional reading lessons at home.

"All" the parents aren't.

SoupDragon Fri 14-Jun-13 14:53:13

There is a distinction between words that do and don't exist in the language

And Narnia did not exist until it was written in the book. Not entirely sure what point you are trying to make. A child taught how to decode words is at an advantage when encountering "Narnia".

SarabiDog Fri 14-Jun-13 14:59:09


*Two questions:
1. Are you claiming that you never heard the word 'antidisestablishmentarianism' before you read it? That seems extremely unlikely to me given that you would have to be reading something pretty obscure on the subject of church and state to read it, whereas it is very frequently said as a comedy example of a long word.*

Or I could have read it during an English lesson about long words. There's really no need to read an obscure text to learn about obscure words.

2. How do you know you're pronouncing 'floccinaucinihilipilification' correctly? Have you sat with a dictionary working out the phonetic symbols? How do you know, for example, if it's 'norci' or 'nokki'?

Funnily enough, I have a friend who has a phonetic dictionary who confirmed it for me. I do appreciate you trying to get all sniffy about it though.

Soupdragon has summed it up perfectly - "All the building blocks provided by the phonics fell into place and he was off.

He had basically been taught how to read anything, not just to read certain words."

Phonics is one tool amongst many that help us deal with words that we don't know. To deny it's usefulness in teaching kids to read is really just being churlish for the sake of it.

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 15:27:42

Eccentrica I am one of the parents who is doing extra phonics at home. I'm doing it because the school believe in mixed methods. It is helping DD to progress much faster than she would otherwise do.

Phonics works well for the vast majority of children. Mixed methods/look and say fail a substantial proportion of children. There is no reason at all not to begin teaching all children with synthetic phonics.
As I said earlier, I work with older children who haven't been given a solid grounding in phonics. By the time someone has realised that they're struggling, the damage done to their confidence, and by the bad habits that they've learned, is really hard to undo.

eccentrica more people in the uk have reading difficulties than have red / ginger hair. Would you call a red haired person unusual.

It feels to me that you are projecting your own experience into the situation. You got to grips with reading early, great for you but plenty of children don't even if they don't have SpLD. It is really important that those children are picked up early as Pozzled says.

Euphemia Fri 14-Jun-13 17:17:49

eccentrica Thankfully, phonics teaching is based on research and the experience of teachers, not on the limited experience of you and your children.

phonics and the test were designed for children with difficulties reading

Rubbish. Whole word teaching was the fad; it came in during the Twentieth Century but the system before that was more phonics-based.

You don't know how you learned to read; you can't possibly know the cognitive processes your brain went through when you were 4/5. Academics with the expertise to research these things do know.

ReallyTired Fri 14-Jun-13 17:33:05

Whatever methods you or the school choose for teaching a child to read, it requires work from the parents. A teacher simply does not have time to listen to 30 children read every day. Many of the 20% of children who leave primary school unable to read have can't be arsed parents rather than actual dyslexia. (Don't get me wrong dyslexia is real, but not the only reason children fail to learn to read.)

In someways I think that meeting and assessing the parents gives a better idea whether a child is dyslexic. Usually if a child has parents who take an interest their child's education then they learn to read easily unless they are dyslexic.

If you tell Mrs Bloggs that you want to have a really important meeting about her son (offer her a choice of dates, offer childcare and pay for any taxi fares) and she doesn't turn up then prehaps its a parenting issue rather than necessarily a learning diffciulty.

Hulababy Fri 14-Jun-13 18:22:52

Re helping a child to learn to read at home...

Imagine you're learning to drive.
With lessons you will get there.
The more lessons you had the quicker you will pick it up.
The more practise you have outside of the lesson the quicker it will be again.

Just like reading. The more practise a child gets, in and out of school, the quicker they will pick up the skills needed to read.

AaDB Fri 14-Jun-13 18:41:58

I think reading at home is old school. As children, we had books my grandparents read with my dm. I read books that I read when I was little such as Hungry Caterpillar and Dr Suess.sporting reading at home is not new our unusual.

In any case I like to be involved and see what ds is up to.

BlackholesAndRevelations Fri 14-Jun-13 19:01:07

Well fuck me, Pozzled, I'd better quit my job then. Never mind the fact that I'm a bloody good teacher whose phonics set will be getting bloody good results next week.

The "e" in "have" does not make the a say its name, which is why children learn it as a tricky word and an exception to the rule. Yes I know letters and sounds makes you explain that these letters make that phoneme in tricky words (the "ai" in said for example feenie) BUT it doesn't hurt for them to know that they wouldn't pronounce/sound out the individual letters "a" and "I", hence making it a word they can't sound out.

There are so many exceptions to every rule, and phase 5 goes through them all.

I can't quite believe I've been told I don't know much about phonics!! angry

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 19:06:23

You need to read Letters and Sounds carefully, Blackholes - no one has said you aren't a good teacher, but your claim that tricky words can't be sounded out. Very, very few words cannot be sounded out - you are sending out the wrong message by saying that, and it is also incorrect.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 19:10:33

BUT it doesn't hurt for them to know that they wouldn't pronounce/sound out the individual letters "a" and "I", hence making it a word they can't sound out.

Just tell them that in this word, 'ai' is code for /e/.

Later on, they will also find it in 'again' and 'against'. It's a more unusual correspondence, but not totally unique.

BlackholesAndRevelations Fri 14-Jun-13 19:12:13

So I'm doing it all wrong then, as are all the teachers in my school.

By the way at no point did I say that I don't underline the phonemes in tricky words and explain which letters are making them. Obviously too tired to make sense after being up all night, teaching all day and looking after my own little ones (oh and being pregnant).

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 19:14:00

I don't think it would hurt anyone to have up to date phonics training - most teachers are happy to say they are improving all the time.

It was the teaching of 'can't be sounded out' which was worrying.

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 19:20:29

Blackholes You explicitly stated that 'have' is a word that 'can't be sounded out'. You now say the same about 'said' if I am reading the post correctly. Both assertions are simply untrue, I believe they are unhelpful for children and statements like that are part of the reason that people are so against phonics teaching- as seen on this thread.

BlackholesAndRevelations Fri 14-Jun-13 19:27:59

But I read letters and sounds every week when I di my planning. I've already said "ok I'm doing it wrong". What more can I do? Please stop going on.

SDeuchars Fri 14-Jun-13 19:31:48

Perhaps it would be correct to say that "said" can't be sounded out letter by letter?

[And, in fact, it is not always pronounced s-e-d; it could be S-a-ee-d.]

My problem is not that phonics is not a useful strategy but that it is not the only strategy, contrary to what Mr Gove seems to think.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 19:34:21

Actually. you didn't say that, you said 'Well fuck me, Pozzled, I'd better quit my job then' - so we explained further. grin

Aww come on, none of us are the finished article, I'm definitely not, even twenty years on.

Have a wine, it's Friday (if you can have a small one, that is smile)

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 19:36:13

But as a strategy it reaches the vast majority of children. Whereas mixed methods definitely fails one on five, with no way of knowing which children it will affect.

It's a no-brainer.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 19:37:05

S-a-ee-d? confused

You have lost me!

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 19:48:00

Ok, apologies if I seemed like I was 'going on', my last post was a x-post with both you and Feenie.

SDeuchars Do you mean 'said' can be pronounced 'say-d'? I have heard it used that way occasionally.

SDeuchars Fri 14-Jun-13 20:10:59

No, I meant S-a-ee-d as in Edward Said. This explains why it is not the only strategy. There is no substitute, IMHO, for wide exposure to a variety of text and the supportive assistance of an experienced reader.

My worry with tests like this and with Gove's concentration on getting children to "decode text" is that if we do it too early (and most European countries start formal education later than the UK with no obvious long-term disadvantage), we switch some children (perhaps the 20% who would not learn without phonics) off reading - they define themselves from an early age as non-readers.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 20:32:37

Who would ever say it was a substitute? confused They're vital - but they don't teach decoding.

zebedeee Fri 14-Jun-13 20:53:51

Who would ever say it was a substitute? They're vital - but they don't teach decoding.

So er..., that will be mixed methods then. Mixed methods works just fine in the hands of an skilled teacher. In fact if the claims are to be believed 4 out of 5 children thrive on it. The question is what are the one in five children doing/not doing that is a barrier to their learning to read - the answer doesn't always lie with lack of phonic knowledge.

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 20:58:47

Eh? Wide exposure to a variety of texts + supportive assistance + synthetic phonics does not = mixed methods.

SDeuchars Fri 14-Jun-13 21:03:13

Surely, mixed methods work just fine in the heads of 80% of children?

(That is, it is something that happens for most people regardless of what teachers do.) Part of the problem is that we (including researchers) don't know how people read. We know that they do and we know that how expert readers read is not the same as how beginners do it, but we do not know what flicks the switch.

SDeuchars Fri 14-Jun-13 21:06:27

So what is "mixed methods", Pozzled?

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:07:16

What pozzled said - you don't understand the meaning on mixed methods.

There are three ways of teaching decoding - phonics, sight reading or a mixture of both.

NONE of them preclude wide exposure to a variety of text and the supportive assistance of an experienced reader - but only one of them doesn't fail one in five children.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:08:15

Mixed methods - sight mixed with phonics (and a handful of guessing strategies just to really confuse and hamper them).

SDeuchars Fri 14-Jun-13 21:10:16

Are you claiming that synthetic phonics has 100% success?

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:12:40

Since we implemented phonics only in our school 16 years ago, only 3 children have failed to learn to read to a level 4 standard - they left us to go to special schools.

claig Fri 14-Jun-13 21:18:30

This reminds me of that song
'There may be trubble ahead, but while there's moonlight ..., let's face the muzik and danz"

I am afraid I can see this ending in tears for Gove. He is on about rigour and we have alien words and apparently the brightest pupils are sometimes going backwards.

Wot's up? Has someone sold Gove a pup?

"The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, believes that the test helps schools to identify readers who are lagging behind in class, but teachers' leaders say the brightest children are failing the test because they are trying to turn the made-up words into real words by spelling "strom" as "storm", for instance."

"The literacy expert Professor Joan Freeman comments: "It is beyond belief. Any psychologist would say this is crazy. Children should be taught to interpret meaning. Every word is connected to a meaning. Those who designed this test have no idea about what one does with a collection of letters on a page."

She adds: "This isn't the way to help children understand words in context. I'm more than horrified with the phonics screening test."

Phonics is all about the sound a letter or group of letters make, rather than recognising whole words. Children who can already read and write a fair number of words are being encouraged to go back to the basics, rather than being allowed to move forward from the stage they have reached, which can be disheartening for them.

More divisively, children who can spell words correctly are being told that they must change the spelling to read phonetically, which can produce a word that looks like gobbledegook or a variation on a text message written in shorthand.

For example, one child came home and wrote the following: "Wot doo u wont pleez" and "heer iz wun apool". He said the teacher told him he must spell words using phonics and that he's not allowed to spell words any other way, unless she tells him he can in class.

He felt confused. He asked his mother why his teacher wants him to write "wot" instead of "what" and why he is not allowed to spell words correctly. On another occasion, the child came home and said he had written the word "come" in a sentence and that his teacher had told him to change it. He said his teacher asked him to rewrite the word by sounding it out first. He said he wrote "cum" and the teacher told him that was correct.

MrsGSR Fri 14-Jun-13 21:25:30

I still think if children are turning words they don't know (non words or just words they haven't come across before) into words they do know, this needs to be addressed or they will never progress.

IsThisAGoodIdea Fri 14-Jun-13 21:26:22

I was at primary school in the 1980s. I don't remember phonics - did we learn some other way? Is phonics better?

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Fri 14-Jun-13 21:29:27

"The literacy expert Professor Joan Freeman comments: "It is beyond belief. Any psychologist would say this is crazy. Children should be taught to interpret meaning. Every word is connected to a meaning. Those who designed this test have no idea about what one does with a collection of letters on a page."


Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:29:52

Look and Say (sight reading) was still in vogue in the 80s - it failed one in five.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:31:47

apparently the brightest pupils are sometimes going backwards.

Some of the brightest pupils are those who fail to learn using mixed methods/sight. Intelligence isn't a factor in predicting who will or won't.

Some better readers are having their misreading picked up on and corrected early. Good.

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Fri 14-Jun-13 21:35:09

Look and say isn't failing one in five kids in my country though, Feenie. It works extremely well.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:35:10

The literacy expert Professor Joan Freeman comments: "It is beyond belief. Any psychologist would say this is crazy.

Well, that discredits him immediately - educational psychologists have been using this check for years.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:35:19


Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:36:18

Good for you! We'll have to take your word for it, since you have failed to elaborate.

Not very relevant then really.

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 21:36:47

Feenie, that is a very impressive claim. Are you saying that you achieve pretty much 100% level 4 in your yr 6 reading? How do your writing results compare?

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Fri 14-Jun-13 21:37:57

I already told you, our kids score higher than your according to a study of all OECD countries. Presumably not using phonics is working well for us.

claig Fri 14-Jun-13 21:38:37

Oh dear. It is over for Gove. The Daily Mail is on the case and the Daily Mail reader is unlikely to be impressed with alien words etc

"But the unions argue they risk making failures of pupils.
In a joint statement, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the National Association of Head Teachers and the National Union of Teachers say: ‘The use of made-up words will confuse children for whom English is a second language and those with special educational needs as well as frustrating those who can read already.
‘There are already enormous pressures on teachers to teach to the test, so how long will it be before children are being taught to read made-up words?’
The unions say they do not object to the use of phonics, provided that the Government ‘does not insist they are the only method’.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said: ‘The unions’ position is disappointing as many of their members have told us how this check will allow them to identify thousands who need extra help.’

Have the unions set Gove et al up for a fall?

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:38:47

More or less the same - 93% perhaps is typical. And 50-70% level 5s, typically. In a socio-economically deprived area.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:39:46

I'll discuss it with you if and when you divulge the country.

Euphemia Fri 14-Jun-13 21:42:06

Those who designed this test have no idea about what one does with a collection of letters on a page.

If she's prone to such hyperbole, forgive me for not taking her seriously.

She seems solely interested in "gifted and talented" children, so she may have no experience of either teaching children to read or children with barriers to learning.

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Fri 14-Jun-13 21:42:18

Sorry, I've probably outed myself enough already with this rant!

Fair enough. If you say you have to continue to teach made-up words or you will fail a significant portion of your students fair play to you. We can agree to disagree.

MrsGSR Fri 14-Jun-13 21:44:25

Sorry for being ignorant but could someone explain the 'look and say' method?

It's always struck me that the point of phonics is to advance the cause of phonics.

I haven't read all of this thread yet, but I've noticed in past discussions that some of the supporters exhibit an almost religious zeal for the subject and find it hard to deal with people who don't think it's the holy grail.

Catmint Fri 14-Jun-13 21:50:20

My dd has this test on Monday. She is a strong reader, so I was concerned because I had heard that more confident readers had struggled because they tried to fit real words in.

Then I realised that the skill of identifying and blending the bits of words can be applied to fake words as well as real ones. And that readers will always come across unfamiliar words and the ability to decode them is vital.

Lord knows, I loathe Gove with every fibre of my being, though!

claig Fri 14-Jun-13 21:50:46

"The test has been criticised by teaching unions because of possible flaws and said it could do more damage than good.

They suggested that including made-up words such as 'chab' 'queep' and 'sarps' will frustrate those who can already read and confuse pupils who have special educational needs, or those for whom English is a second language.

Forty per cent – nearly 237,000 children – were below the pass mark. They were unable to read 32 words correctly out of 40."

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:53:24

So what? Christine Blower can talk for me any time about pension rights - but she knows nothing about teaching reading. She is a secondary school teacher.

And Dr Mary Bousted has shown herself in phonics debates to be completely ignorant re phonics teaching.

claig Fri 14-Jun-13 21:54:53

When are the results out for this year's test?

If they are bad and deteriorating then Gove may face some difficult questions. He has been banging on about rigour and people will expect an improvement in standards. Having nonsense words in the test opens him up to talk of dumbing down etc and of confusing pupils.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:56:04

I haven't read all of this thread yet, but I've noticed in past discussions that some of the supporters exhibit an almost religious zeal for the subject and find it hard to deal with people who don't think it's the holy grail.

Wouldn't you , if you knew of something which worked but which teachers ignored, shrugging and saying 'some children always struggle', remained ignorant of the research staring them in the face and failed thousands upon thousands of children, year upon year upon year? Would that be just a tiny bit frustrating - and yes, make you passionate? It's a very emotive subject.

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 21:56:31

Thanks for that link Feenie, I shall read it with interest.

claig Fri 14-Jun-13 22:01:42

If the results are bad and if the unions stick the boot in, then Gove might find himself alone on the dance floor. The Daily Mail won't back him. They don't like nonsense

This could harm his leadership ambitions. Thatcher was not for turning, but Gove has made more u-turns than a skater on thin ice already and one more could send him under.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 22:04:27

Every cloud....

claig Fri 14-Jun-13 22:05:06


Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 22:05:37


joanofarchitrave Fri 14-Jun-13 22:20:06

I find this thread a bit strange. I don't think I've ever learned any skill properly without breaking things down first. It's not dumbing down, quite the opposite, it's learning the basics well.

MagicHouse Fri 14-Jun-13 23:58:23

I shall simply have to agree to disagree with some posters on this thread. I and most of my colleagues (in a group of about twenty local schools who have met all year for phonics training/ discussion/ sharing of good practice) think this test (but not phonics teaching) is a waste of time. It's not that I/we disagree that teaching phonics doesn't have a place - it's fun, and of course helps with decoding. But no-one will ever convince me that other strategies should be thrown out of the window when teaching a child to read. I love teaching reading - it's something I feel very passionate about and something I feel I do well. I love giving the children the confidence to believe in themselves as readers. Whether or not my the children in my class can word attack a list of 40 real and nonsense words doesn't always have a bearing on how fluent, confident and happily they can read an actual book. I have a super reader in my class, who struggles with some of the sort of words the test asks him to read. He simply doesn't look at words in that way - he reads the whole book and reads many of the words through the sense of the book. He can recall every separate sound out of context. The nonsense words just confuse him.
And before that's taken out of context, he's just one child who reads like that. I have another child who has a super memory for letters and sounds and can read the list without a problem. But he's nowhere near as fluent a reader. Give him a real book and he can say the words, but will find questions about the text hard to answer.
Reading is about so much more than phonics.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 00:21:13

shall simply have to agree to disagree with some posters on this thread.

And the research.

Pozzled Sat 15-Jun-13 08:07:10

Magichouse How will your fluent, confident reader be able to read the hundreds (thousands?) of made up and unusual words that appear in high quality children's books? Roald Dahl and JK Rowling books are pretty hard going if you don't have a solid strategy for attempting new words. A lot of non-fiction will also be very difficult.

iismum Sat 15-Jun-13 09:29:21

Good to see the case for phonics being put across clearly and eloquently by many posters, especially Feenie. But sadly there will always be (a lot) of people who feel instinctive feeling and their own interpretation of personal experiences is a better guide to what works than properly conducted research. You see this in every area of life (alternative medicine, for example) and it's incredibly frustrating. I wish they would spend a bit of time in schools properly explaining the scientific method and the value of properly conducted research over subjective experience. sigh

MagicHouse Sat 15-Jun-13 09:46:30

There is plenty of research e.g Dominic Wyse (well worth a read, and backs up his findings with longitudinal research, rather than on studies over a year or less) that support the teaching of a range of strategies to develop children's reading (others - Marian Whitehead, Reading Recovery, National Literacy Trust) Nobody disputes that phonics is important, just that other strategies necessarily play their part.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 10:11:02

Reading Recovery? Says it all, really <shakes head>

Would that be the Reading Recovery that has been ditched the US and Australia and even in New Zealand where it was developed, at enormous expense, since it has been found that it actually fails the bottom 20% it is trying to help? Absolutely dreadful intervention, heavily entrenched in teaching the very children who shouldn't guess a whole raft of silly guessing strategies and judged so by a raft of international researchers.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 10:12:13

One of the most interesting things I have discovered about RR over the years is that they refuse to take part in any independent research project which aims to make a direct comparison of RR with another intervention, particularly structured phonics. In fact,they have never participated in such a study.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 10:13:15

Big business, you see. Or it was until it was totally discredited.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 10:20:15

I would be very surprised if you could show me something from the Literacy Trust which recommends guessing - we now know that struggling readers rely on picture and context cues.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 10:27:21

Research by Stanovich and West as far back as the 1970s demonstrated that it was poor readers who 'used all the cues'. Good readers decoded rapidly and automatically and only used context to check the meaning of a word, not what it 'says'.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 10:35:49

I can't find anything so far from Dominic Wyse which supports the use of context or picture cues, MagicHouse. Perhaps you could direct me?

MagicHouse Sat 15-Jun-13 10:46:15

Wyse, D. and Parker, C. (2012) The Early Literacy Handbook. London: MA Education Ltd.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 10:51:06

Thank you. Direct quote please?

BlackeyedSusan Sat 15-Jun-13 10:53:22

ooo feenie, lovely links and ideas for (my) reading thanks. smile

MagicHouse Sat 15-Jun-13 10:54:07

You could always email him!

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 10:54:34

And, as with other self-professed 'experts', Dominic Wyse has never taught anyone to read other than his own children.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 10:56:20

You're welcome, BlackeyedSusan - did you see my earlier links to and RRF - both also have a wealth of research.

MagicHouse Sat 15-Jun-13 11:03:00

Good grief! All his work is peer reviewed as you know. He works at the Institute of Education, one of the most respected research centres for education in the country. Backing off now.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 11:08:13

Neither Wyse nor Styles are cognitive psychologists critiquing research by a peer, but are 'education' academics whose fields of interest, while they may touch on 'reading', are not directly connected to the initial teaching of basic reading skills. (Although Wyse claims an interest in pedagogy a look at his research fields shows that they have nothing to do with the teaching of foundational reading skills).

Sorry, MagicHouse, but everything I have read so far supports the fact that Dominic Wyse is vehemently opposed to synthetic phonics (although he concedes that teaching reading using synthetic phonics 'can be extremely effective' in transparent languages) and prefers the 'contextualised', (analytic) phonics method - yet I can't find anything that supports your view that guessing using picture/context cues is successful for readers.

Anything. At all.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 11:09:14

From any of the sources you quoted.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 11:19:28
marcopront Sat 15-Jun-13 18:56:42


Is Yoni an actual word?
If so can you tell me what it means? If not I presume you wouldn't want your children to learn to read it, but we need to.

fuzzpig Sat 15-Jun-13 19:01:04

I think DD will enjoy it. She is confident at decoding though and loves reading nonsense words in Dr Seuss books.

People have been learning to read for a long time. Long before phonics was introduced. I managed before I started school so I'm devastated to learn that I did it wrong smile I expect I'd be expelled these days for not being about to read dogeurtenoehtsiscinohp.

That's not to say we shouldn't look at better methods, but phonics doesn't appear to be it. People claim it's a way to decode words, but we all know that's not possible. There are hundreds if not thousands of exceptions and you have to TELL the child this one is an exception and so in this ... and that ... and those...

Eventually you have taught them to read of course, but not by decoding words, as that isn't possible in english.

Perhaps if you invented a language that worked with phonics? Start from wanting so badly to apply it and then design a situation in which it works.

I'm not a supporter of alternative medicine btw. I think it's the other way round. Phonics like homeopathy seems to be about wanting badly for it to be true and about loyalty to the cause. Ask a phonics supporter if there could one day be 'an even better method' and watch them flinch.

Feenie Sun 16-Jun-13 18:11:48

People have been learning to read for a long time. Long before phonics was introduced

Another myth - sight reading is the newcomer, it was brought in in the 70s with not a scrap of evidence to support it.

It's actually phonics that's been around for hundreds of years.

But do carry on. smile

Feenie Sun 16-Jun-13 18:14:25

People claim it's a way to decode words, but we all know that's not possible.

Have you ever seen the alphabetic code?

Very, very few words genuinely do not follow the code.

Feenie Sun 16-Jun-13 18:16:28

That's not to say we shouldn't look at better methods, but phonics doesn't appear to be it.

That's not what the evidence shows. Where are you getting this from? confused

Euphemia Sun 16-Jun-13 18:48:57

Perhaps if you invented a language that worked with phonics

All languages work with phonics. What a bizarre statement.

zebedeee Sun 16-Jun-13 19:32:03

Feenie, the article you linked to, wasn't evidence against Reading Recovery, more a press release turned newspaper article. Wheldall wasn't comparing MiniLit TM against Reading Recovery, and as he is promoting his own business it is in his interest to discredit Reading Recovery.

In fact in this from his blog, he tries to put a negative spin on a report on Reading Recovery (naturally, as someone building a business in competition with Reading Recovery), but in fact illustrates how Reading Recovery has a whole school impact for the positive, with Reading Recovery schools performing better than non-Reading Recovery schools.

But you can of course be selective in who and what you want to believe; Professor Joan Freeman, (you can google her) is, according to you wrong. It is in Wheldall's (great financial interest) to put down Reading Recovery; although even in the newspaper article he can't do it entirely, not least maybe because his own programme appears to have been influenced by Reading Recovery.

Feenie Sun 16-Jun-13 20:43:37

Three countries have thrown it out zebedee, since it has totally failed the very children it was supposed to help.

Reading Recovery is failing in Australia

Reading Recovery Program Deemed a Failure

Reading Recovery failure creates low self esteem

MissBetseyTrotwood Sun 16-Jun-13 21:23:39

DS1's phonic awareness, amongst other things, helped him to learn to read. Now it will help him spell.

Luckily, DS2's massive lack of progress in phonics has been picked up nice and early by his lovely head of key stage; she has read the research and knows that this, and other issues he has, mean he may be at a higher risk of developmental dyslexia.

The tests weren't a big deal for DS1 and seem a bit silly really but I don't lose sleep over the use of synthetic phonics within a classroom rich in good quality literature.

zebedeee Sun 16-Jun-13 21:35:28

There are critics of Reading Recovery, (just like their are critics of Read, Write Inc and other synthetic phonic programmes). Again you link to Wheldall for New Zealand (MiniLit, see above), but these articles aren't proof of your rather Gove-like statement of countries having 'thrown it out'; Reading Recovery still remains in Australia, New Zealand and America.

'Reading Recovery is supported and significantly funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Education as part of the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy.' Reading Recovery, NZ website

'Reading Recovery is "proven program" that works, network says

The Promising Practices Network (PPN) says Reading Recovery is proven to have positive effects on student outcomes. PPN is a group of individuals and organizations dedicated to providing information about high-quality, evidence-based programs that improve the lives of children, families, and communities.' Reading Recovery Council of North America website

And there are some Reading Recovery job vacancies,, in Australia.

Feenie Sun 16-Jun-13 21:57:19

But most critics of Reading Recovery aren't denouncing it in favour of phonics - they are denouncing it full stop, independently of the phonics argument - and with plenty of evidence based research to back them up.

In contrast, RR cannot produce any independent research to back its claims, and more or less refuses to take part in any such studies.

RR cost billions to implement, and those US states who still use it do so presumably because they do not want to admit the enormous and embarrassing waste of money it has become. New Zealand funded it in its conception, but I am surprised they are still funding it now, given it is so expensive and non-productive.

RR - an evaluation of benefits and costs

Evidence based research on Reading Recovery

Feenie Sun 16-Jun-13 22:20:08

Whole Language Highjinks - How to Tell When Scientifically-Based Reading Instruction? Isn?t

Reading Recovery is a high-profile individual tutorial approach that has been widely used in the United States, particularly for first graders. Analyses of Reading Recovery by independent researchers have shown that between 25 and 40 percent of students have been dropped from the program’s own data analyses because they do not do well enough in the program to be maintained in it.

eccentrica Fri 14-Jun-13 14:25:30

>>>>> Muddled I've read your post three times and I find it almost incomprehensible. "if they got a little stuck I would say, for example, "the 'gh' is a new one, the g and h in this word make a <does action for /f/ sound>" which would make them work out the sound with a little help and they would then add it to their list of sounds to try for those letters." ??? Feel sorry for little kids learning this way. <<<<<

I feel sorry for any kids taught reading by you. Phonics is fabulous. It's one of those things that is so obvious, but until you have it explained to you you don't realise. It's a lightbulb moment when you just get how it works.

>>> More importantly I find it very concerning that all the parents on this thread whose kids are learning to read through phonics are supplementing this with additional reading lessons at home. <<<<

The only kids who are getting supplemental reading lessons at home seem to be those who are being failed by their school's method(s) and the parents are trying to compensate - using phonics! I suspect that most schools are like my kids' school in that the building bricks are provided by the school but the school push for practice with parents at home. Of course though, the children who read every day at home with parents will progress more quickly than those who don't.

>>>> Clearly phonics is not working very well for the majority of children. What happens to all of those whose parents don't have the spare time or inclination to make up for what they're not learning in school? <<<<

Phonics is fabulous in that the school can provide the children with the tools to be proficient and capable readers regardless of what support they get from home, it doesn't rely on teaching from parents and children can progress despite a lack of support from home. It just may be more slowly than those with support due to the lack of practice.

M0naLisa Sun 16-Jun-13 23:49:35

My son has just done this as part of home work. He got two words mixed up into the wrong boxes but changed them when we told him. I do think its daft.

For example one of the fake words were bash. Now I said to ds that's fake but in the wrong box and he said 'its not cos I say to ds2 touch my stuff and il bash you' wink lol

diddl Mon 17-Jun-13 07:01:23

Bash is a fake word?

Since when?

smokinaces Mon 17-Jun-13 08:34:11

I'm on this thread. Both my boys are learning through phonics. We have no extra lessons here. Ds1 is second top reader in his year. Imo phonics works very well.

So no, not all parents are supplementing with extra lessons at home.

And bash not a real word??

diddl Mon 17-Jun-13 08:57:57

"fake but in the wrong box"

So bash was down as a real word?

I think it is a real word & that your son's usage was correct, Mona

smokinaces Mon 17-Jun-13 11:00:56

Pozzled Mon 17-Jun-13 13:04:55

Yes, bash is real. And anyway, the children don't have to decide whether or not a word is real. This is used sometimes when practicing phonics, but it forms no part of the actual check.

Hulababy Mon 17-Jun-13 18:52:02

First class at my school did this year's screening today.

Very positive results so far. 84% pass rate from today's class which included a number of children with learning delays/difficulties.

Every child who is a good reader have passed.

None today struggled with the idea of real words and non real words.

Those who struggled and have not yet achieved the required level were not a surprise to the teacher.

Hope that helps anyone who is worrying.

goldenlula Mon 17-Jun-13 19:25:57

Ds1 did his today. Does anyone know the pass mark? He knows what he scored and if the pass ark is th same as last year he has passed, if it is much higher he has failed again, despite doing very wll this year compare to last year.

Hulababy Mon 17-Jun-13 20:22:32


But your ds should not know it was a test (it is not a test, it is a screening check) and definitely shouldn't know what he scored! I am shocked that he has been told this as it is not meant to happen that way.

goldenlula Mon 17-Jun-13 20:38:56

He would see it as a test as they were taken out of the class and asked to read a list of words, that would be a 'test' in his eyes. Whether he took a sneaky look at what his teacher wrote down as his score or it maybe that he knew he got 'x' number wrong and he knew there was 40 words, so he did he maths! He was not bothered by it, infant he was quite pleased with his efforts!

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