How do I help my daughter prepare for the yr 1 phonics check?

(244 Posts)
Churmy123 Tue 30-Apr-13 14:00:24

My dd is 5 (6 at the end of July) and is in year 1. She enjoys school, is well behaved and as far as I know doing well and progressing as she should be. The feedback from her teacher has always been positive. At the last parents evening I was told that she has a flair for creative writing and her writing skills and handwriting are at a year 3/4 level. She also said my dd was one of the 'better' readers and in on turqoise books. At home she is currently confidently reading Enid Blytons Famous Five books. Yesterday after school the teacher called me in to discuss my dds phonics skills. They had done a 'mock' test (last years test I believe) and my dd had only scored 29 out of 40 (32 being the 'pass' mark). She asked if I could do some extra work with my dd at home to try and get her up to the 32 mark before the 'test' in June. She gave me some sheets with words on to work through with my dd and also recommended the 'phonics play' website. We did some of this at home last night and my dd appeared to find it easy and didn't struggle with any of the words. Do I just continue doing this at home? Or could it be that she was having an 'off' day on the day of the 'mock' check? Or is it the 'alien' words that are confusing her? I'm a little confused!!!
Thanks. x

Fragglewump Tue 30-Apr-13 14:05:18

I hate this test and I'm a teacher! It is confusing as some words are real and some are made up - eg flumch all you can do is tell her she needs to read a mix of real and nonsense words to check that she can sound out and then blend unknown words! I wouldn't worry about it much 29 is a great result and it will have no bearing on her long term success - it's just another meaningless stick to beat teachers/schools with!

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 14:07:30

I'm a little confused as to why the teacher is asking you to do her job for her! If you want to accept the task (and I'm not at all sure that I would,) you can read lists of words both real and alien from various discussions on mumsnet and compile your own list of 40 words and then test your daughter yourself. Hopefully you'll then find out if it's the real words or the fake ones that she's having trouble with. You might want to have a time limit and not help her with any words if she struggles. I guess that might be hard for a mum because maybe one person's help is another person's not helping.

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 14:08:07

Surely the test is meant to be an accurate assessment of your DD's ability to decode unfamiliar words?

My DD2 is not 6 until August, and I'm not going to be at all surprised if she fails the check. I'll be glad if she does, because it means they'll give her extra help in the weaker areas. I'll be glad if she doesn't, because it means that she's secure in the techniques.

What I wouldn't want, is for her to be taught to test, then struggle with application in every day reading. That doesn't help anyone.

blueberryupsidedown Tue 30-Apr-13 14:11:06

Really? We don't even know when the check will be. Teachers don't talk to parents about it, we will receive a letter saying if they have passed or if not they will receive extra help at school. I think that the best way to do it is to try to find a book that will have more unusual words (I find that books about animals, or planets, or factual books with unusual words) and observe your child when she 'decodes' the words. Does she sound them out first? Is she blending the words correctly? Is she trying to replace an unknown word with a word that she is familiar with?

My DH is a teacher and he was watching this clip the other day, it might give you an idea of what the evaluator is looking for.

If the phonics test is to check progress then what favours will it be doing to coach? Just to make the teacher look good?? She knows what she knows and if her phonics are t up to scratch then she wouldn't be on turquoise surely? Just do your reading as normal. smile

Churmy123 Tue 30-Apr-13 14:12:12

Thanks for the response Fragglewump. I must admit I was a little worried and concerned last night but feel a bit better about it all now. The words that the teacher gave me were 'real' words and she sounded them all out perfectly. So I wonder if the teacher can also give me some 'alien' words to try too? I think I was just surprised. Yesterday she wrote an A4 long story about fairies in the garden and it was all spelt correctly including words like queen, special, goblin.

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 14:18:09

Here's a list of words used. But you might have to modify the words if your daughter has already seen this list. But it gives you an idea.

I would not bother 'coaching' your child for this test.

One, any competent teacher would not need this test to show the, how your child is performing.

Two, you are just encouraging the people who set these tests to set more of them.

Three, the test may have little to do with your child's progress and

Four, she's 5/6 and,shouldn't need to do extra homework as it is.

Churmy123 Tue 30-Apr-13 14:19:30

And thanks to everyone else that replied whilst I was posting my first reply! learnandsay I suspect it's the 'nonsense' words that she's struggling with. We had a go at the 'phonics play' website last night and she got nearly all the 'phase 5' ones correct. It amazed me that she could sound out the words prophet and sphinx and dolphin. But classed the first two as 'nonsense' as they are not in her vocabulary!

Sorry about all my typing, one handed feeding baby!

As a PS if your child needs extra help then she needs proper support not coaching to pass a test.

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 14:28:43

Maybe the teacher has quite a few children who failed the "mock." And can't see how she's going to raise them all this late in the day.

But if each individual mum coaches her own child for ten minutes per day between now and test time, who knows? Maybe double the number of passes?!

Genius. grin

Churmy123 Tue 30-Apr-13 14:30:32

Thanks again everyone! My original panic has now passed. Thanks for the link learnandsay. Nicknamegrief I do agree with your comments. We don't really have much spare time in the evening for more homework. She loves reading and writing and often after school she will sit and write a short story. So I definitely don't want to stop her doing this just to free up some time to do phonics.

christinarossetti Tue 30-Apr-13 14:49:19

It sounds like your dd is doing very well, although the school's teaching of phonics may not have been great.

If you 'coach' her, the school misses the opportunity to recognise its current, genuine weaknesses and improve in the future.

I would honestly carry on as you are.

EskSmith Tue 30-Apr-13 14:58:53

I agree with Christina, this test is meant to be a snapshot of the child's phonics ability, gained over the last 5 terms in school, not something to be coached for. If you coach her to pass then an incorrect snapshot of the school's ability to teach phonics.

BTW sounds like your daughter is doing very well by the way, I wouldn't see any cause for concern, just let her carry on having fun with words and stories.

Every new word is a nonsense word to a child until they understand it and know what it means.

How did she know the first two words were 'nonsense' - do you know they are really nonsense? They could just have an obscure or adult meaning. e.g. flit, mosh, berk, prang

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 18:25:28
learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 18:28:03

No, if the word appears in an otherwise meaningful sentence there is usually a presumption that the word is also meaningful as long as that has been true in the passage so far.

Ok, learn&say If I'm at a music festival, and someone says: 'Want to mosh?' How do I know what that means? Dangerous to accept without knowing! grin

Equally: - Where's Andrew? Oh, he did a flit. Not always easy to determine what the meaning is.

mrz - really interesting link, thankyou

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 18:39:17

John saw the huge £$£%#&£*@*& at the museum. Helpful, meaningful sentence?

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 18:42:25

If somebody says "do you want to mosh?" then you can assume that they're using the unknown word as a verb. You can ask them what it means.

want tomosh
or want to mosh

could mean anything because it's not a proper sentence and includes an unknown word.

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 18:45:36

I've used a real word in my sentence but changed the code ...helpful?

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 18:48:13

Well, that actually does happen:

Superbobbin hit Bad Andy - POW (*&(&**^^

or Supergirl said "Oh, &(&& I've forgotten my tights!"

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 18:56:26

*Superbobbin hit Bad Andy - POW (&(&**^^

Superbobbin hit Bad Andy - POW groiks!

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 18:56:54

This just goes back to principles, doesn't it? IF you want your child to succeed by passing the test at all costs, you can teach to test.

If you want your child to be secure in their phonic knowledge and to identify areas of weakness, let the test happen without coaching.

I know that DD2 isn't sure about the split e digraph (I think that's what they're called). She is inconsistent in the sounds she uses when a word has a vowel, consonant, e.

There are lots of other things she's inconsistent with also, although her fluency of reading has improved hugely and she is good at decoding in general.

If I had to place bets, I think she might fail the test.

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 19:06:52

But so is English inconsistent with vowel consonant e


lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 19:11:34

Of course, L&S. But DD2 is inconsistent when reading the same words. So sometimes she uses one sound and sometimes another, with the same word.

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 19:26:50

the vowel digraph words were the ones that tripped up some of our children last year lougle

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 19:41:30

That's interesting, mrz. What I'm finding fascinating, about DD2, is that she knows all the terms. She knows the examples they work with ie. she will say 'or - shut the dooor' or 'ou - shout it out' 'oa -goat in the boat' but it's when she comes to generalise that to reading books or spelling, she hasn't got it. She's learned the sounds as a 'thing' in themself, not as a building block within words.

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 20:07:01

It's why I'm not a fan of the "gimmicks" lougle ... I recall many years ago the children trying to read using Letterland characters rather than the sounds.

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 20:22:13

But I think it's supposed to be an illustration. I don't think you ever do know precisely what the punctuation marks were meant to represent (unless some correctly placed letters remained among them) but because the format is so cliched the reader can guess pretty much what was said.

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 20:25:08

Only because they are familiar with it, learnandsay.

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 20:26:51

Yes, but in any representative system the reader needs to be familiar with it.

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 20:28:00

Careful, learnandsay, you'll be advocating Biff, Chip and Kipper soon wink

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 20:28:10

Do they need say or -shut the door or do they only need /or/

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 20:33:23

I'm not sure. They use read, write, inc. I think they practice the sound /or/ but then they are given the rhyme 'shut the door' to reinforce?

DD2 is quirky and takes everything very literally. So it doesn't surprise me that she's learning it as a block, rather than just learning the sound and remembering that they were told that it's /or/ as in 'door'.

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 20:36:09

It isn't unusual for children to do just that lougle

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 20:37:00

That's reassuring.

Churmy123 Wed 01-May-13 12:36:51

Thanks everyone for the replies

Just to make it clear, I was never planning on 'coaching' my daughter just to increase her chances of passing. I was generally worried that she wasn't meeting standards and therefore needed to practice her phonics more (as requested by her teacher). After reading all your replies and chatting to a friend who is a year 2 teacher my original panic has gone

I will continue to encourage her love of reading and writing through books and writing her short stories (that she loves to do) and lay off the actual 'teaching'. If she wants to have a go on the 'phonics play' website then she can.

Thanks again. x

lougle Wed 01-May-13 12:56:00

"I was never planning on 'coaching' my daughter just to increase her chances of passing."

What's the difference? smile

Churmy123 Wed 01-May-13 13:02:13

??? lougle
My understanding from the teacher was to get her to practice at home to increase her chances of passing. My personal take on it is (going my comments on here) that her ability to use phonics and decode new words will impact on her in later life. So I want her to improve her phonics as a long term aim not just a short term aim (passing the test).

If it helps my number 2, failed the phonics test last year (as I could have predicted) but by September this year he would have passed it-easily. Not due to any extra work (we just kept doing what we were already doing) but simply because he was a bit of a late bloomer (your daughter sounds like she is a better reader than he was at this age).

Our head reckons the better readers do worse in the phonics test because they try and make sense of nonsense words. Given the regard the phonics test is generally held in, I wouldn't bother doing anything special for it at all! If she's reading Famous Five etc then she's probably gone beyond phonics anyway.

However, should you decide to, you could look for books with made-up words in them, or create your own things with silly words in eg Alien names, spells, invented sweets, recipes etc.

Elibean Wed 01-May-13 14:03:05

I'd be a tad hmm if dd2's Y1 teacher asked me to 'help' her for the test!

We don't even discuss it, as parents, with the teacher. And dd2 isn't aware of a test at all - just games, and tasks, involving sounding out.

I'm only aware of it because I happen to be a Gov at her school, and because I read MN...and as far as I understand it, it's not about testing the children as individuals. It's about testing the teaching of phonics within the school.

lougle Wed 01-May-13 14:10:42

My error, Churmy. My brain inserted a comma when I read that this morning, turning it into:

""I was never planning on 'coaching' my daughter, just to increase her chances of passing."

So I thought you were saying that you wanted to increase her chances of passing rather than coaching her.

I understand that you are concerned.

scaevola Wed 01-May-13 14:32:31

If ahead thinks the children are 'tryingto make sense' of something that is clearly indicated is the name of an alien, then I would not trust their word on what makes a 'good' reader, as that child is neither decoding accurately, nor understanding context (ie a name isn't a vocabulary word).

Elibean Wed 01-May-13 14:51:29

I'd agree with that.

Although I can imagine dd2 saying something along the lines of 'I know his name is 'Gowk', but I like 'Gook'!'

Though as mrz and someone else rightly said, kids behave in much straighter lines with teachers than they do with mums grin

TeenAndTween Wed 01-May-13 14:59:40

I wish the phonics check had been in place when my (A)DD1 had been in y1. She is now in year 9. She is an avid reader but struggles to read new words because her phonics is very poor. She also struggles with spellings because of this too.

imo A 'good' reader should be able to pass the test because it means they can sound out unfamiliar words. A whole word reader, like my DD1 can only read words they have come across before.

So for the OP, I would work with making sure your DD uses her phonics knowledge to read unfamiliar words. Perhaps look at some non fiction books together as they tend to use more unusual words. So if she uses her phonics (which is what you want) she will then pass the test (as a by-product).

Elibean Wed 01-May-13 15:00:39

Dr Seuss is good too.

Churmy123 Wed 01-May-13 15:10:40

TeenAndTween - thats why it was a bit of a shock as my DD has always been in the 'top set' for reading and phonics. When we read at home together she does sound out new and unfamiliar words. And when we had a go at the 'phonics play' website she quite easily used her phonics to sound out 'nonsense' words! When she reads to me, sometime she will stop when she gets to a word she hasn't come across before, think for a few seconds and then says it. So shes obviously working it out in her head presumably using phonics. Unless shes guessing at a word?

Elibean Wed 01-May-13 15:54:14

Churmy, she may have just been having an off moment smile

That's the problem with tests and kids.

mrz Wed 01-May-13 17:13:22

I think heads/schools claiming good readers do worse in the phonics check are making excuses before the event knowing their phonics teaching isn't all it should be hmm

learnandsay Wed 01-May-13 17:31:19

But the purpose of phonics is to teach children to read. The purpose of reading isn't to practice phonics. So if the children can already read that's great. The heads ought to be congratulated.

mrz Wed 01-May-13 17:43:57

They obviously can read words they have learnt by sight but don't have the skills to read unfamiliar words learnandsay ... I wonder how many are using Biff Chip et all books personally I think the heads should be flogged with the ORT catalogue

carbalanche Wed 01-May-13 17:49:30

I think it's a bit silly worrying about this phonics test when she can evidently read and write fantastically! Be proud of her and even if she flunks the test - so what! Get her to read the books she's reading out loud to the teacher and that will prove her abilities. Honestly, I would be really annoyed if I was you. Judging what some teachers are saying on this thread there's not a lot of respect for this test anyway.

Congratulations on your talented little girl!

mrz Wed 01-May-13 17:51:09

In last years check there were 12 very easy non words (no chance of a child confusing them with a real word) and 8 very easy real words in the first section followed 8 more non words (2 were anagrams of real words) and 12 more difficult real words. So if "good readers" got the two anagram words wrong they could still score 38 out of a possible 40.

maizieD Wed 01-May-13 17:53:10

But the purpose of phonics is to teach children to read. The purpose of reading isn't to practice phonics. So if the children can already read that's great. The heads ought to be congratulated.

The purpose of reading is communication of the author's purpose. Changing 'unknown' words into 'known' words alters or distorts the meaning and subverts the original purpose of the text. Why anyone would think that this is part of 'good reading' is completely beyond my understanding.

Added to that, why would anyone think that a 6 year old has encountered every single word that they are ever likely to read? I cannot get my head round the stupidity of headteachers and teachers who make such idiotic statements about beginning readers.

maizieD Wed 01-May-13 17:54:27

P.S Not your statement L & S...the one about 'good readers' turning alien words into ones that they 'know'.

mrz Wed 01-May-13 17:57:36

It's quite simple really good readers don't guess

learnandsay Wed 01-May-13 17:59:05

I knew what you meant. The headteacher's aren't making those statements about the "good children's" reading. They're making them about their performance on this test. If normal reading mainly consisted of reading lists of isolated words, the meaningless half of which were decorated with aliens then I'd be lining up with the ORT catalogue to administer some of the floggings myself. But it isn't.

mrz Wed 01-May-13 18:00:17

and contrary to popular belief on this thread I would be very concerned if a teacher told me a child was a good reader and they failed this check (mainly about the teacher)

mrz Wed 01-May-13 18:06:41

The headteachers are making excuses to parents learnandsay pure and simple. Con parents into believing their child has struggled because of the test rather than admit they have failed to teach them good readers don't fail

Wishwehadgoneabroad Wed 01-May-13 18:12:07

I personally hate this test.

It's so stupid having made up words in it.

There's probably more than a few adults on this thread who are perfectly competent readers, and would get those 'made up' words wrong. Trust me.

Stupid test.

Bears no relevance whatsoever in how well your child will do at school.

Mind you. I'm not a big fan of phonics, so shoot me now! (totally blame current phonics teaching for kids inability to spell words correctly!)

learnandsay Wed 01-May-13 18:14:40

I think the time to have the debate about whether or not any heads were wrong is after the results come out.

learnandsay Wed 01-May-13 18:17:15

If the mythical "test-failing-goodreader" does loom large then maybe we''ll all get a close up look at her to see what her reading is actually like.

ClayDavis Wed 01-May-13 18:56:49

I'd be very surprised if anybody on this thread got any of the words on last years test wrong.

learn andsay, heads will already have the scores from last years test results. There are many schools where all of the most able readers scored full or nearly full marks. The interesting question is why able readers passed the test with 38/39/40 marks in some schools but in others failed to reach the pass mark of 32.

learnandsay Wed 01-May-13 19:01:26

But this time round they've had a whole year to prepare for it. Anecdotal issues will come out in fora like these, no doubt, about staffing issues and the like which could have been influential.

daftdame Wed 01-May-13 19:19:08

mrz - I agree, in that I think there are problems with the test when teaching has been inadequate. For example if the child is not used to reading 1 to 1 with the teacher and the teacher administers the test. In year one it was a good week if my DC read with the TA or helper once a week. Or bad going from the comments, I'm not sure the reading was enjoyable!

No problems with decoding though - read to me at home, out - everywhere, non -familiar words, accurately from an early age. It would have been the test situation, if my DC had taken it, that would have caused a problem.

This is anecdotal - but definitely possible.

didireallysaythat Wed 01-May-13 19:23:45

Am I a bad/disinterested mum ? I didn't know there was a year 1 test. We're in year 2 now. What other tests have I missed ? I'm going to take my lack of knowledge as a sign there's nothing I should be worried about.

mrz Wed 01-May-13 19:25:46

There's probably more than a few adults on this thread who are perfectly competent readers, and would get those 'made up' words wrong.

I seriously doubt it!

Are you suggesting you would struggle to read Cif or Dettox or Millicano or Cushelle etc Wishwehadgoneabroad?

learnandsay Wed 01-May-13 19:30:17

Is Dettox pronounced as it's spelled or pronounced deetox? According to the rules of the test, since it's a real brandname (and hence a real word) it has to be pronounced correctly.

scaevola Wed 01-May-13 19:33:30

You'd apply the 'double letters' rule, wouldn't you? Like hoping/hopping? Short vowel before double consonant.

mrz Wed 01-May-13 19:35:01

Sorry it slipped a stray t in there should be Detox

mrz Wed 01-May-13 19:36:50

It may be a brand name learnandsay but it's a made up word and at some point someone had to read it without knowing what it was.

daftdame Wed 01-May-13 19:38:33

Reminds me of the old Nestle (pronouned English way) and Nescafe (pronounced English way) and the new French way of pronouncing these brand names. Also remember Nike being pronounced Nikey in the 80's?

I pronounce Dettol as it is spelt , although I don't think they'd be allowed brand names in the test or expect children to decode words according to the rule of foreign phonics. I also remember the French teacher trying to perfect our vowel sounds (not easy with our strong northern accents!grin).

mrz Wed 01-May-13 19:49:13

No one is suggesting they use brand names in the test just showing that the idea of adults being unable to read made up words is clearly nonsense.
No one would struggle to read Muggle or blog or Sudoku but they were all made up words once!

Elibean Wed 01-May-13 19:49:17

I wonder why they chose Y1 for a phonics test, and not Y2? Was that because it gives time to correct teaching issues?

mrz Wed 01-May-13 19:54:43

If a child "fails" to meet the level (won't know what it is until the test) then the school is expected to put support in place (another reason schools/heads are conning parents into believing the test is flawed) so children don't enter KS2 disadvantaged.

daftdame Wed 01-May-13 19:55:50

mrz - Just have to say it Shitake mushrooms (snigger). Sorry I'll stop now.

daftdame Wed 01-May-13 20:01:57

On a more sensible note mrz, chasing 'support' can be difficult. What is a child's SN and what is due to the teaching could be very difficult for a parent to untangle.

lougle Wed 01-May-13 20:05:20

I'm still baffled as to why parents would be upset if their child failed this test.

It doesn't mean they are terrible readers; simply that they need support to get a secure knowledge of phonics.

DD2 came home today and, over dinner, suddenly said 'meat is a homophone, Mum. Beacause you eat meat, but you can meet someone.'

The test isn't a test of cleverness, or intelligence. It's simply a test of whether the child is able to apply their phonic knowledge generally.

mrz Wed 01-May-13 20:06:39

See there is an example of a real word borrowed from Japanese daftdame so you would be expected to read it correctly

I fully expect my dd to inform the tester that " that's not a word" grin

christinarossetti Wed 01-May-13 20:18:09

The only reason I would be concerned if my children fail this test is because it would indicate that the school hadn't been teaching phonics properly, which I would rather they did.

mrz Wed 01-May-13 20:18:38

The "tester" (otherwise known as your daughter's teacher) will have already informed your daughter that it isn't a real word before asking her to decode it.

That's a relief mrz smile she's been known to point them out before

MammaMedusa Wed 01-May-13 20:27:57

Sudoku is borrowed from Japanese too. (It uses the same Su as in Sugaku - maths. Gaku means study of something. So sugaku is literally study of numbers).

Not helpful really!

mrz Wed 01-May-13 20:31:01

Sudoku is a made up Japanese word MammaMedusa a bit like "chillax" and "Podcast" and "staycation"

maizieD Wed 01-May-13 20:44:31

I fully expect my dd to inform the tester that " that's not a word"

So your 6y old is intimately acquainted with the full English lexicon (at least 250,000 words)? hmm

mrz Wed 01-May-13 20:50:55

Perhaps some parents like some headteachers want a ready made excuse just in case their child "fails" the check hmm

I wish the check had been around when my son was six

No but she picks out words in her books - ones that are blatantly made up and spends more time asking questions about that than she does reading on. I have two books she won't read because she thinks the words are silly. ( these are books with made up words though not o es that she just hasn't come across yet)

She quite often gets fixated on things she thinks dont make sense. Bedtime stories aren't always that relaxing as a result smile

MammaMedusa Wed 01-May-13 21:04:05

Yes, I suppose Sudoku is made up. It was originally short for a much longer phrase. Japanese makes up new words all the time though, I wonder when we say a word becomes a word? I think sudoku is more word-ish than, chillax. Similar to podcast, though, probably. It can be written in Kanji (Chinese characters) which is always my test of a "real word" as opposed to a "made up one" as they can usually only be written in katakana (phonetic).

Anyway, this is not a helpful divergence.... a phonic test in Japanese would be easy! A character reading test on the other hand...

christinarossetti Wed 01-May-13 21:05:08

I think a bit more is being made of the 'real' and 'made up' words in the phonic check than needs to be.

My Y1 dd is a very able reader and hates to make mistakes - she never 'guesses' based on what might come next or a pictorial clue as my ds does.

She did a mock check or whatever last week and scored 40/40. She mentioned in passing (when I quizzed her closely....) that some words had been 'alien' words, but was completely unperturbed by this.

If they've been taught phonics properly, they will be able to confidently decode (although there may be some children with SEN that will find this more complex, I guess).

daftdame Wed 01-May-13 21:14:33

Christinarossetti - it's not just children with SEN which might find this more complex it's also children that have received inadequate teaching.

This can be difficult for the parents to entangle, the results are not published, they will only know their individual child's result unless other parents have spoken to them.

mrz Wed 01-May-13 21:15:10

New words are constantly entering the English language too MammaMedusa and I suppose they become a real word when they enter general usage and are widely understood.

mrz Wed 01-May-13 21:19:55

I would be suspicious if the school were saying my child is a good reader but they failed to meet the phonics check standard daftdame

learnandsay Wed 01-May-13 21:25:05

Maybe too many people have remembered that last year a lot of supposed good readers failed and are factoring that into their prediction of what will happen this year without letting the test happen first, getting the results and then worrying about the explanations.

daftdame Wed 01-May-13 21:31:12

Mrz - but you would not be able to ascertain whether the SEN was due to you child's individual development or inadequate teaching because the results are not published. Unless parents spoke to each other you could be just fobbed off with a 'programme', thinking your child has SEN.

mrz Wed 01-May-13 21:39:08

If they are telling me my child is a good reader yet he/she can't decode simple words I think I have a good idea where the problem is daftdame

maizieD Wed 01-May-13 21:40:42

although there may be some children with SEN that will find this more complex, I guess).

I suspect that fewer children with SEN will struggle with the Phonics Check than is popularly believed. There is an almost symbiotic relationship between 'SEN' and 'failure to learn to read' in a significant number of cases. Children are slow at learning to read so they are deemed to be SEN.

While a few dohave significant difficulties which make learning to read a slower process many of the 'SEN' children I have worked with at Sec. really have only suffered from incomplete or muddled phonics teaching. They respond really well to some nice simple and straightforward phonic work and I really can't find anything which would have prevented them from learning at a much earlier age.

Churmy123 Wed 01-May-13 21:40:55

Crikey I'm even more confused and worried now! Do I put my trust in the teacher and take her word that my dd is an 'excellent' reader or assume that the school is not up to scratch with its teaching of phonics? I don't mind doing extra work with her at home but we already spend a lot if time reading and writing as she enjoys it. I'm pretty confident that she can read words that she hasn't come across before so surely she is using phonics to do this? The other day she sat and read two off my husbands grapic novels with no help and there were lots if words that she had never seen before. So how is she doing it if not using phonics? :-S

mrz Wed 01-May-13 21:45:43

I think the key word there is supposed good readers learnandsay

maizieD Wed 01-May-13 21:49:38

Don't worry, Churmy! If she can accurately read words that she hasn't seen before she should be fine. She clearly understands that she doesn't 'know', and doesn't need to 'know', every single word she encounters, so isn't likely to try to make the 'alien' words into 'real' words. That seems to have caused much of the bother last year.

learnandsay Wed 01-May-13 21:50:03

Maybe, but I'd still like to see this year's results first and then have the argument about who can read and who can't and why rather than have the argument first in anticipation.

learnandsay Wed 01-May-13 21:51:32

I think everyone agrees that the phonics check isn't a reading test. So there's still scope for argument about how reading is possible without it.

maizieD Wed 01-May-13 21:59:27

P.S. there is no requirement for the children to 'demonstrate' their phonics by overtly sounding out and blending. If they can read the words accurately straight off that is fine. The 'alien' words were put in to eliminate the possibility that a child may have learned all of the 'real' words as whole 'sight words'. The 'alien' words have to be worked out with phonic knowledge as it would be virtually impossible to recognise them as 'sight words' ('sight words' have to be 'told' to the child before they learn to identify them).

Hulababy Wed 01-May-13 22:03:09

I said this on the other thread too - but, children read non words happily a lot. We all did it in the past too! Read a Roald Dahl book and you will find lots of non words.

Snozberry - I bet everyone here can read that. Is it a real word? No.

daftdame Wed 01-May-13 22:03:11

Mrz - yes I think I get your point. It is easy to go around in circles since there are a few variables. Ability to decode well & good teaching practices = good result in test.

If one of these is missing there could be some problems either with test performance (due to it being an unusual experience and therefore stressful) or a genuine problem with decoding.

mrz Wed 01-May-13 22:03:22

Do you honestly think schools are going to tell parents that their child has failed the check due to their poor teaching learnandsay hmm

mrz Wed 01-May-13 22:05:53

It should not be stressful in anyway daftdame ...the check should last around 4 minutes with their own teacher

daftdame Wed 01-May-13 22:08:17

I agree. Mine didn't take the test although did not read 1 to 1 with own teacher from one year to the next either. But there is no problem decoding. I just like a puzzle, sorry.

christinarossetti Wed 01-May-13 22:23:58

Do parents only get told the outcome for their own child?

My children's school told parents the % of children who had passed.

Hulababy Wed 01-May-13 22:35:49

Think for our Y1s last year the parents were told as part of their end of year report.

daftdame Wed 01-May-13 22:36:13

Christinarossetti - the other thread mentioned results not being published. It was said they are submitted ( presumably to the LA) and also that parents are told their own child's result.

daftdame Wed 01-May-13 22:59:43

Learnandsay - I don't think people do read with no phonic skills. I think it possible to have these skills without being formally taught synthetic phonics. However these skills may still be possessed and be so embedded the processing occurs subconsciously. In this scenario a person could be good at decoding but find the test unfamiliar and not perform as well as they would in a natural environment.

learnandsay Wed 01-May-13 23:14:08

That's one possibility, another is that they form a great recognition for words and can easily understand what most texts they meet are saying because of that recognition ability. Of course if you put them in front of a different language they wouldn't be able to read any of it, let alone understand it.

daftdame Wed 01-May-13 23:23:58

Both possibilities are valid since shape recognition does play a part in reading. By itself it's not reliable though. A strong ability in this area could compensate for a weaker ability in phonic skills but would become unstuck with isolated unfamiliar words - hence the validity of the test.

Where the test becomes unstuck is isolated words in the natural environment have a context regarding where they are placed for example a new brand. The word has meaning because it is placed on the packaging. If somebody is not used to being tested, or unfamiliar with the test environment they may find it difficult to reference meaning for the test and thus become distressed.

maizieD Thu 02-May-13 06:28:43

That's one possibility, another is that they form a great recognition for words

And how do you think this great recognition for words is developed? It doesn't (except in very rare, exceptional, and inexplicable, cases) materialise out of thin air. It is not an innate ability. Reading may exploit brain mechanisms which already exist (well, it must do, else we would not be able to do it) but some explicable process must be going on within the brain; 'forming great recognition' has to be underpinned by activity within the brain and although the processes of letter/sound recognition are explicable in the light of brain based research into reading (and as a reflection of the development of the written word) the 'it happens by magic' isn't.

Where the test becomes unstuck is isolated words in the natural environment have a context regarding where they are placed for example a new brand. The word has meaning because it is placed on the packaging. If somebody is not used to being tested, or unfamiliar with the test environment they may find it difficult to reference meaning for the test and thus become distressed.

I think that you are heavily overthinking this, daftdame. There should be nothing inherently distressing in reading a few words to a familiar teacher. If a child were distressed by it I would be very worried about the approach to the test taken by the school.

mrz Thu 02-May-13 07:02:42

I administered the test last year and a large number of the children asked if they could come and do some more words the next day daftdame because they enjoyed the 1-1 attention

lougle Thu 02-May-13 07:12:04

I am sure that phonics are useful. My DH did not learn phonics. In fact, he was so behind in English that when DD2 came home and talked about homophones, he said 'I remember Mrs x teaching me that.' It was his year 10 teacher.

I can't spell out a word to DH if I want to be discreet about something in front of the children. Why? Because unless he can 'see' the word, he doesn't know what it says. Even a simple word like 'banana'. He has to close his eyes and 'write' the letters in his mind. Then he 'reads' it.

We've realised that he learned to read by whole word recognition. He doesn't see the sounds in words. He simply recognises that when a word has a particular shape, it says x.

It impacts on his spelling. He has no building blocks to work with. He either remembers or he doesn't.

He likes the fantasy genre. When he comes across unfamiliar words, and there are many in fantasy, he has to ask me how it would be said. It is just a new shape, to him.

He finds it hard to see the rhyming pattern of some children's books, because he doesn't see the sound patterns and syllables.

It's massively harmed his self esteem.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 07:12:08

That's a great testimony to your relationship with the children you teach, mrz.

wonderingagain Thu 02-May-13 07:14:35

Please please don't coach your dd for a test. It is a meaningless assessment for tracking progress to make sure children aren't slipping through the net.

If you coach her and she becomes anxious how will you feel? The teacher is out of order.

mrz Thu 02-May-13 07:18:27

Interestingly daftdame I wasn't their class teacher and had never taught them.

wonderingagain Thu 02-May-13 07:21:08

Phonics is great for learning to read but not brilliant for writing or spelling. If your dd can read fine and the teacher thinks she has a gift for writing I would say the less phonics the better.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 07:25:48

lougle I'm not over thinking, perhaps my experiences are rare but never the less valid. I never said reading happens by magic. The brain is a fantastic organ though, we don't understand half it's complexity.

When I referred to the teaching of synthetic phonics in my earlier post I meant teaching phonics as it is expected to be taught now. There are many people who can read well now and who have more independently and organically built on their experience of being taught very rudimentary phonics - as in just been given a single alphabet of sounds.

I would never expect the above to happen for every child, problems certainly occur when it doesn't. I agree with the teaching of synthetic phonics.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 07:28:06

mrz well the children, for whatever reason, were well prepared.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 07:31:30

Sorry my last post to lougle was to MaizieD.

lougle Thu 02-May-13 07:33:18

I think you mean maizieD, daftdame.

lougle Thu 02-May-13 07:33:40


mrz Thu 02-May-13 07:49:51

I disagree wonderingagain

I suggest looking at the daya from Sounds-Write which follows 1607 children over the period 2003-2009 and measures the improvement in SPELLING AGE!

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 07:59:54

maizieD How could a parent discern whether their child's school administers the test badly / or whether their child is distressed in the test?

If they don't know what to look for, they may second guess their own experiences and views concerning their child's ability in reading since teachers set themselves up as 'experts'. Some teachers are very good, but we have a history in this country of children 'slipping through the net'. Because the figures are not published they wouldn't necessarily know whether to question the school.

maizieD Thu 02-May-13 08:16:35


Sorry, the 'reading happens by magic' bit of my post was for L & S, not youblush

How could a parent discern whether their child's school administers the test badly / or whether their child is distressed in the test?

You were the one who was postulating that the test could be distressing for a child. I assumed you had some reason for suggesting it. The only reason that I could think of for a child being distressed by the Phonics Check is that their teacher has made a huge Thing of it beforehand (like they do with KS2 SATs) and got the child wound up about it. Which would be completely irresponsible on the part of the teacher, not to mention unnecessary. It is a long time since my children were 6y olds, but I recall that they were both pretty accepting of whatever happened at school, however strange it may have seemed to an adult. I don't think reading a few words to their teacher would have bothered them...

learnandsay Thu 02-May-13 08:19:52

I don't know what the scope for administering the test badly (from a child's perspective) is, but the rules don't allow help. So if the child is floundering with a word (which is very probable) it's probably used to getting reading support. This, according to the rules, is not allowed. Hopefully the test is too short to allow for real distress to occur but I can imagine twinges of discomfort for children who are looking for absent pointers during moments of confusion. I suppose the whole thing could be looked upon as a necessary evil, a bit like the pain children experience when taking their jabs. Perhaps the children should get a spoonful of jam after the phonics check.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 08:21:13

maizieD Sadly, I myself was never that accepting (even from a very young age) - can't you guess?grin

bestbefore Thu 02-May-13 08:27:12

my son "failed" this test last year...terrible to be a failure aged 6.
anyway afterwards we discovered this app by pearson which may help...certainly quite fun if you have an ipad or ipod type thingy.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 10:33:35

maisieD & Learnandsay - On the subject of 'innate ability' and languages have you ever looked at Daniel Everett's study of the Piraha people? A digression I know, but fascinating.

christinarossetti Thu 02-May-13 11:10:29

Sorry, I don't understand how phonics isn't good for spelling. Without understanding how sounds build words, children can only use memory, which limits them.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 11:17:47

christinarossetti - I think a grasp of only rudimentary phonics or incomplete phonic knowledge can lead to bad spelling.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 11:20:57

A good visual recognition of the shape of a word or muscle memory in the way a word is written can aid spelling also.

learnandsay Thu 02-May-13 11:23:10

There are multiple ways to spell many sounds, so spelling well is a question of knowing which spelling is required. The same memory limitations apply.

wonderingagain Thu 02-May-13 12:18:07

My dd has SEN and everything was delayed. She learned to read phonetically and now spells like that although slowly it's subsiding as she's learning to spell by repeating the letters one by one - it' a different process.

DD1 has no SEN, I taught her to read at 4 myself by sounding out groups of letters, breaking down words into two or 3 parts covering the letters with my fingers. I guess that's phonetic. She's an excellent speller but I think she remembers a whole word at a time, visually. Also I'm a bit of a spelling geek - it may be hereditary.

I think it's important to assess reading ability young in order to monitor schools intake and will give a better picture of schools/ the system's effectiveness. But calling a test and getting parents is not going to help anyone.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 14:08:39

Agree about the testing wonderinagain, it should just be a tool. A 360 degree approach should be used actually assess children, which includes listening to parents and taking their experiences seriously.

Cries citing 'expertise' and wearing qualifications like a badge, insisting tests are infallible... just makes me question the credibility.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 14:12:33

And I think whole school results, if submitted to the LA, should be published.

wonderingagain Thu 02-May-13 15:51:33

I wonder if the results would be a better indicator of progress than sats?

maizieD Thu 02-May-13 16:06:59

my son "failed" this test last year...terrible to be a failure aged 6.

Did some very insensitive person tell him that the had 'failed'? There's no need to do so.

No-one should be regarding children who don't meet the standard as 'failures'. They should be looking to see what the problem is and working to rectify it.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 16:10:38

I'm not sure the results of the phonic check would be a better indicator, but an additional indicator, yes.

If a child did not do well and a parent finds the class didn't do well, in fact the results last year were poor also, they would question the quality of teaching.

At the moment the school could just tell the parent the child has SEN and offer a 'programme' (which all takes additional time) therefore covering up bad practice (at least in the short term).

I'm not saying this would be a school's preferred option, however a lot of 'bumpy' starts could be prevented if there was more transparency in education.

maizieD Thu 02-May-13 16:27:17

The problem with the 'SATs' (actually 'National Curriculum Tests' or NCTs) is that they do not test whether a child has a secure knowledge of how to work out what words 'say'. The best they can do is indicate that a child can get the gist of a text. And they can throw up some pretty odd results. I have worked with a number of children with a KS2 L4 in English who have no idea how to read multisyllable words.

The Phonics Check is an attempt to fill the gap in skills testing and to identify children who need extra help at an early age before they fall far behind their peers. When you've worked with a succession of Y7 children who have never been asked to read more than a few words at a time you realise how enormous the gap can become.

mrz Thu 02-May-13 16:40:49

"So if the child is floundering with a word (which is very probable) it's probably used to getting reading support."

In answer to daftdame this would be a clear indication that the school has not only administered the check badly but have been teaching badly too. Any school/teacher who fosters a climate of dependence in the classroom are letting down pupils.

mrz Thu 02-May-13 16:47:05

"I think a grasp of only rudimentary phonics or incomplete phonic knowledge can lead to bad spelling."

I agree totally which is why I think the check is essential. Many schools have used similar checks for years as part of their internal assessment it is a pity that it is having to be made statutory in order for all schools to assess effectively.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 16:48:34

erm, mrz your reference is from learnandsay's post. But I would agree with you in that if the test is administered the children should be familiar with the same kind of activity.

mrz Thu 02-May-13 16:50:23

My quote is from learnandsay's post daftdame but it beautifully illustrates how you would know if the test was administered badly which I believe you questioned?

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 16:51:46

Yes, I get your point now, thanks. smile

mrz Thu 02-May-13 16:57:29

The KS1 National Curriculum reading tests (SATs) have many multi choice questions and if I'm honest it is possible for a child to achieve a good score by guessing

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 16:59:48

mrz But not publishing whole school results in addition to may be not knowing when exactly the check was in progress or whether the child was floundering / distressed still leaves a parent in the dark somewhat. They don't know whether their child has genuine SEN or whether the teaching has been less than adequate.

mrz Thu 02-May-13 17:06:30

So you wouldn't know if your child had been upset at school that day?

mrz Thu 02-May-13 17:12:01

The screening check isn't meant to identify SEN children

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 17:17:06

mrz re. upset - not necessarily, they could've got over it, they may not say why, may just be quiet and then cheer up later. Teachers may not tell you, child may be let out by the TA who knew nothing...endless possibilities.

re. - identifying SEN, I'm relieved. I had obtained that impression from previous posts.

mrz Thu 02-May-13 17:26:36

If she got over it before hometime I wouldn't describe her as being at all distressed would you?

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 17:32:54

Short term distress could be enough to skew the results of a test - I'm not talking about lasting damage here. As soon as the test is over a child could be just relieved it is over - a child does not necessarily worry about the consequences of a test at that age.

mrz Thu 02-May-13 17:40:47

Sorry I didn't realise MN had so many sensitive children who will become distressed during 4 minutes of teacher's undivided attention.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 17:41:17

mrz Do you not agree with publishing whole school results of the phonic check?

Elibean Thu 02-May-13 17:43:24

But (I'm sure this has been said) the test is testing the teaching of phonics in the school, not the individual child. So if the test is skewed by upset or anything else, it's up to the school to interpret that rather than for any parent or child to even worry about it, really.

mrz Thu 02-May-13 17:46:57

I'm against publishing any results daftdame the league tables are a complete joke but I do think parents who have children in the school should be give the percentage of pupils reaching the expected score.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 17:49:27

Elibean as soon as parents are informed there is usually a responsibility put on them to support the extra work required.

They obviously have a huge emotional investment in how well there child achieves and would want to help. This is why if they are considered 'partners' in education they should be treated as such and given a more equal footing in terms of transparency, consultation and communication.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 17:50:51

mrz that would be better than nothing.

mrz Thu 02-May-13 19:00:17

I can't see what more you would need. I assume if it were so dire you chose to look at other schools you would ask their headteachers about results.

learnandsay Thu 02-May-13 19:08:15

Asking questions on school visits/open days can sometimes lead to unsatisfactory answers, for all kinds of reasons. The answers tend to be fullest when the head has collected all the prospective parents in the hall and gives a talk and then answers questions. I've found when asking questions on a walkabout the answers were sometimes vague or daft.

mrz Thu 02-May-13 19:14:48

Ask a direct question - What percentage of your Y1 pupils attained the expected level in the phonics screening check?

If you get a daft answer or worse no answer assume it is bad news!

mrz Thu 02-May-13 19:15:24

and never visit en mass

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 19:37:10

mrz I agree with you, but nobody wants to disrupt their child's education by changing schools on a whim. Added to this there is not exactly a free market with regards to school places.

I would also concur with you in that League Tables certainly are problematic, especially with schools teaching to the test and putting pressure on children and parents to do extra work at the last minute. If this was to happen with the phonics check, which does not seem unlikely considering the OP, it certainly would be counter productive.

However the other extreme, of not giving parents any whole school information, would not hold the school accountable to the parents at all. The parents would just be left to pick up the pieces supporting their child through the extra work they have to do to catch up. This leads to widening the inequality gap between children whose parents are able to support them and those whose parents are not.

wonderingagain Thu 02-May-13 20:13:50

I think schools will always be unequal while the goal for all is expected to be academic success only. Being skilled at sports or practical things is undervalued and will mean that many children will always be left behind.

In order to assess schools effectiveness they should do physical co-ordination tests, art and craft skills tests, computer skills tests, maths tests.

And erase the unfair grading of BTECS vs GCSE's. They put the same time and effort into both, they should be graded the same.

Sorry, ranting again.

wonderingagain Thu 02-May-13 20:16:51

the test is testing the teaching of phonics in the school, not the individual child

Now you tell me!

lougle Thu 02-May-13 20:24:46

A child doesn't necessarily have SEN if they haven't mastered the phonics in the test. They just need some revision or revisiting of the areas of weakness. Please don't make this about SEN. There are enough children who have genuine SEN without this. Of course, there will be some children who have SEN who also fail the check.

learnandsay Thu 02-May-13 20:25:39

But if that was true there would be no need to record the scores of children as individuals, but simply keep a tally of anonymous results.

In fact both the school and the children are being tested.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 20:33:58

My point was that it can be difficult for parents to entangle what is genuine SEN and what is inadequate teaching.

At the point in time when you are told your child has achieved less than expected in a phonics 'check' you will not necessarily know how things will pan out. This can put extra pressure on parent and child. Obviously if it validates something you already suspected it may help you child receive extra help.

A child is on the SEN register as soon as a school places them on it. The first stage of this could be where a school identifies they have not achieved the expected result in the phonic check.

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 20:40:27

Of course the expected standards could be off... Are they average or expected?

christinarossetti Thu 02-May-13 20:56:54

Which is why schools being candid about the overall results of the phonic screening would help. If there are lots of children not reaching the expected level, then the cause is so much more likely to be poor phonics teaching rather than individual children.

Feenie Thu 02-May-13 21:24:56

My ds's school sent out the most extraordinary letter with the news that he had not reached the 32 mark. It was very defensive, and stated that phonics was 'only' a very small part of reading.

I happen to know that only 40% passed - not surprising for a school who chooses to teach phonics only 3 times a week. hmm

Eachpeachpearwherestheplum Thu 02-May-13 21:39:01

Shocked the teacher claims she is a Level 3 and can't pass a phonics test?!

learnandsay Thu 02-May-13 21:45:27

Well, we'll see what happens to schools who teach phonics badly and if nothing happens to them they'll keep on doing it badly. It'll be interesting to see in later years the exam results of the schools who do it badly. Our school's head has a very laissez faire attitude to phonics but the school has some of the best, if not the best, results in the area.

simpson Thu 02-May-13 21:58:45

I am still LOLing at Head Teachers being hit by an ORT catalogue grin

My DC school did very badly in the phonics check last year (not surprisingly the HT is anti the test). However the phonics teaching so far (DD is in reception) seems very good and they have spent money on new phonics based books.

But what would happen to a child who for whatever reason, the teacher knows is going to fail the test? Do they still have to take it?

I do agree with mrz in that kids love 121 time. I read with yr1 kids and they are all desperate to read to me, even the ones who can't read...

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 22:12:52

Simpson I think loving 121 time depends on who it is with!

I hated 121 time with my dreaded reception teacher. (I froze when reading to her) Although it only happened the feeling was probably mutual. My DC loves some teachers / TAs and is less ...ahem...fond of others.

Of course the school would like to think all is jolly - in public anyway.

simpson Thu 02-May-13 22:19:51

Daft dame - that is true. DS (now yr3) last year in yr2 had 2 job share teachers. One assessed him at stage 11and one assessed him at stage 6, guess which one he preferred! grin

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 22:25:58

Wow...scarily advanced.

simpson Thu 02-May-13 22:39:18

Well this was in yr2 so I don't think it was * that* ahead but I was shock at the difference in the assessments.

One teacher he loved, the other he was scared shitless of (who is now in reception with DD - whole different thread!!)

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 22:42:02

Sorry I thought you were talking about levels! grin Do you mean ORT?

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 22:46:41

Yes, about the huge DC has been all over the various reading schemes they have had at his school. I have ended up telling him to ask the teacher himself if he can move up, when he is not impressed with the books in one section. He is allowed to read anything age appropriate at home, can and does.

DoctorAnge Thu 02-May-13 22:47:26

This is a really interesting thread.

It has come at an evening where I have been told by the teacher that DD yr1 has difficulty with phonics. I was confused as she reads v well but I know that she makes weird mistakes on what her teacher called the basic words. Perhaps she hasn't grasped the concept completely or learns in a more visual way.
So she spelled Take as Taike in one test but when I asked her she spelt it out correctly to me. I am pretty confused at the whole thing. She is at an independent school so doesn't have this test but I kind of wish she did.

Teacher told me to try writing a word out 3 times and getting her to circle the correct one...

I may do this test with her - is it a reading or spelling test?

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 22:52:17

Reading, DoctorAnge.k

daftdame Thu 02-May-13 22:54:15

The k wasn't meant - iPad.

learnandsay Thu 02-May-13 23:02:00

doctorange (cbeebies strikes again)

Here you go. Here's the test

simpson Thu 02-May-13 23:11:16

Yep ORT smile

Levels wise one teacher said he was a 3 the other a 1a...

DoctorAnge Thu 02-May-13 23:19:41

Thanks smile

mrz Fri 03-May-13 07:34:06

"Of course the expected standards could be off... Are they average or expected?"

The expected standard for the check last year was 32/40 ... 31 and you haven't met expectations 32 or more and you have all very simple really

learnandsay Fri 03-May-13 07:42:32

Or so it would appear. The implication is that a child has reached the standard by being taught to decode, (not be being coached to pass the test.) So you could score 32 and higher and still not have reached the standard.

daftdame Fri 03-May-13 07:43:23

mrz Do you know what the average results were for UK state schools?

lougle Fri 03-May-13 08:05:03

simpson I was told that DD1 (special school) would take the test last year, because school were led to believe that as long as the child had done the phase 1 phonics (s a t p i n) they would be able to do the test.

They opened the test, realised it was in no way attainable, and disapplied the whole cohort. There were only around 4 out of the 20 year 1's that were going to attempt it anyway.

As far as I know, if a child is disapplied, they don't have to take it in future. Whereas, if a child takes it and fails, they have to retake it each year until they pass. Mrz will know more, I'm sure.

maizieD Fri 03-May-13 11:10:02

^ because school were led to believe that as long as the child had done the phase 1 phonics (s a t p i n) they would be able to do the test.^

Either you have been misinformed by the school or the school is woefully ignorant of how the Phonics Check is constructed. I wouldn't be surprised if the latter is true as, with honourable exceptions, it seems to me that teachers, including HTs, work by word of mouth and rumour rather than going to original documents.

The test was constructed by looking at 5 SP programmes in common use and using items common to all of them which would have been taught by the time in Y1 when the check is taken. If a school is using Letters and Sounds that would, I think, be at least phase 4.

The details of how the Cherck was constructed can be found in the technical report on the Pilot Check.

The report can be found on this page, along with lots of other information about the Check:

maizieD Fri 03-May-13 11:11:29

Arrgh 'check'. Please proof read before postingangry

mrz Fri 03-May-13 19:21:06

Can I just say phase 1 of Letters & Sounds doesn't teach any sounds.

The phonics check assess sounds taught in phases 2-5

All children in Year 1 in the school year 2012/13 must take the check, unless they have no understanding of grapheme-phoneme correspondences.

Disapplying a child from the check
The headteacher may decide that a child should not participate in the check and should, therefore, be disapplied. There is no formal process to follow to do this. The child should be recorded as ‘D’ (child did not take the phonics screening check) when reporting results to the local authority (see section 5.5). Any Year 1 children who are disapplied in 2013 should be reconsidered for the check in 2014.

lougle Fri 03-May-13 19:25:50

Thanks for clearing that up, mrz and maizie. It's quite possible that I've misinterpreted what I was told, tbh.

That's difficult. DD1 has an idea of some individual letters and their corresponding sounds. So she will say 'M' for '<her first name>'. However, I'm not sure that she's yet got the idea that words are broken down into sounds..or has she? She sounded out a few words (cat, rat) last week.

mrz Fri 03-May-13 19:32:54

I have one child in my class who I will disapply because he is preverbal

pickledsiblings Sat 04-May-13 09:55:48

A comment that my sons teacher made about the check is that she has had to speed up her phonics delivery to ensure that all the sounds are covered by the time of the check.

This is a good thing as I'm sure the research suggests covering the sounds 'quickly' as opposed to ambling along on 1 per week.

mrz Sat 04-May-13 10:04:20

It appears to be a huge problem in some schools using Letters & Sounds, teachers are so hung up on those stupid phases some children are still working on the first few sounds into KS2! shock
It seems to have become standard practice in some schools to stream phonics across the school [why? smiley] which also results in some children not having the opportunity to learn all the sounds they will encounter in the test ...

EskSmith Sat 04-May-13 10:13:21

shock that some schools aren't covering all the sounds by the last term of year one!

Dd's school introduced 6 a week from the start of reception.

mrz Sat 04-May-13 10:20:23

The thing is that in some schools some pupils will have covered all the sounds needed but others won't have been given the chance because they have been placed in a "lower" group

maizieD Sat 04-May-13 11:55:10

And the really, really ironic aspect of this is the the L & S 'phases' were never intended as a way of 'streaming' or differentiating. (I am assured of this by one of the L & S authors)

It was pretty inevitable that that was how they would be used, though, given a very poor understanding of phonics teaching among many KS1 teachers and the unfortunate influence of the RWI 'ability grouping'. Which works in RWI schools when it is properly managed, by children being continuously monitored, given extra help and moved groups as appropriate, but in many schools the 'phases' are just perpetuating the old 'low ability' group concept.

DoctorAnge Sat 04-May-13 15:05:55

I still can't find the test - I can't get onto the TES website

learnandsay Sat 04-May-13 15:14:15

I think you need a login. It's free. The test is on that link I gave you.

mrz Sat 04-May-13 16:36:27

I wouldn't worry about the TES link DoctorAnge they are just one person's attempt at producing practise words certainly not worth the effort of registering with the site.

DoctorAnge Sun 05-May-13 15:47:33

Ok thanks I has no luck registering anyway. But the other PowerPoint link has some word examples - is this the test?

mrz Sun 05-May-13 15:50:45

the Power Point contains the words used in the 2012 check ... there will be new words used in June but no one knows what they are until the 17th June

DoctorAnge Mon 06-May-13 11:10:31

Thanks so much Mrz

Buzzardbird Thu 09-May-13 14:26:42

Went to a meeting about this forthcoming test last night.

I went with a sense of enthusiasm and left with a sense that the test was a futile waste of time.

The HT did not give the impression that she believed the test to be worthwhile but equally wanted us all to 'coach' our DC's as much as possible to try and pass. She also said that 'good readers' were likely to fail as they would skim over many words instead of taking time to spell them out.

I am really at a loss on how to approach this now. DD has already mastered her phase 5 phonics and is about to start her turquoise level at phase 5 reading but I know she is a 'skimmer' of words when she is excited about a storyline.

Any suggestions?

I am interested in hearing what books for reading at home people would recommend as she has been reading biff at school and so many of you seem to sneer at these? Her books at home are varied between traditional, princess stories (I know, but she is 'girly') and poems.

Just need some direction. TIA

ShadeofViolet Thu 09-May-13 14:39:01

I havent read the whole thread so dont know if has been mentioned, but DS likes playing this game

Buried Treasure

maizieD Thu 09-May-13 16:17:01

The HT did not give the impression that she believed the test to be worthwhile but equally wanted us all to 'coach' our DC's as much as possible to try and pass.


She also said that 'good readers' were likely to fail as they would skim over many words instead of taking time to spell them out.

I'm glad I'm not an author. Just imagine spending all that time and creative effort to find precisely the right words to produce a given effect and then discovering that your readers don't bother to read most of them; they just skim them.. Not only that, but schools and parents seem to positively encourage children to skim read from an early age.

AlienAttack Thu 09-May-13 18:39:04

Buzzard bird, the only advice I can offer is to encourage your DD not to "skim" words. My DD (in year 1) is on emerald books and occasionally gets lazy when she reads to me and "skims" a word...which basically means she guesses. I stop her and suggest she sound it out. I don't see how she will expand her vocabulary unless she she sounds out words she doesn't know, asks me what they means, and we discuss.

Buzzardbird Thu 09-May-13 19:10:51

Thanks Alien, we definitely don't encourage 'skimming' at home, I always keep my finger under the word until she says it correctly but it does worry me that this isn't followed through at school. I also like you ask her if she knows what it means and explain if she doesn't. The books from school rarely have any challenging words so this tends to be with her own books. I ask them often to give her more challenging books. thoughts exactly, though not sure parents encourage it, unless they don't listen to reading perhaps?

Buzzardbird Thu 09-May-13 19:12:26

Violet, she loves those games and does well on them. Perhaps from what others have said this 'skimming' has been allowed at school?

maizieD Thu 09-May-13 19:27:21


Some parents may well encourage it if that is what the school is promoting as a good reading strategy. sad Fortunately a lot of parents can see that it is not 'good' grin

learnandsay Thu 09-May-13 20:09:11

I don't let my daughter miss or misread words either. In her school reading books she rarely gets words that she can't manage. But in her home reading she gets quite a few difficult words. If she sounds the words out slowly most of the time she gets them right, things like: effectively, quizzical, anxiously and so on. A few times I've volunteered to help her with words, assuming that she wouldn't be able to read them on her own. But she has managed. But, left to her own devices, she will read some of the longer more difficult words horribly wrongly. But if she's told to re-read it until she either gets it right or makes a reasonable job of it, she does.

stealthsquiggle Thu 09-May-13 20:15:36

DD's teacher definitely doesn't allow skimming - in fact, she and we are worried about DD's tendency to do it. I guess some of the DC who are zipping ahead through the reading books may be being allowed to do that at home - I hadn't really considered it, just beat myself up that we don't find more time to read at home (its no good doing at bedtime, DD is too tired to concentrate on anything challenging)

daftdame Fri 10-May-13 09:41:44

Regarding 'skimming' I agree with the above posts in that is no good to skim when it means you either misread unfamiliar words or are just skimming in order to race through a book at record speed.

However it is important to remember skimming does have its uses. Finding the appropriate section in a reference book, finding the part of a story that answers a comprehension question, looking up a word in a bibliography are just some examples.

What needs to be learnt (and encouraged) is how to use this skill appropriately.

maizieD Fri 10-May-13 09:53:59

What needs to be learnt (and encouraged) is how to use this skill appropriately.

I didn't mention that use of 'skimming' as I didn't think anyone would be teaching it to 6y olds!

Surely fluent and accurate reading has to be well established first?

wonderingagain Fri 10-May-13 10:04:22

Buzz - what did the head teacher suggest you do in terms of 'coaching'?

Everyone knows this is simply an assessment and is there purely to identify problems to ensure early support is in place if necessary? And to compare levels across schools for a similar reason?

I can't believe that anyone would tell their parents to coach them other than to make sure the child feels confident and has a rough idea of what to expect.

learnandsay Fri 10-May-13 10:20:03

I can believe it. There's got to be a big feeling in places that the school has to do well.

wonderingagain Fri 10-May-13 10:21:46

It's more in the schools interests to get low marks at the first assessment and higher marks later to show they have made progress, surely?

learnandsay Fri 10-May-13 10:31:34

I'm not following you. I thought the phonics check was a yes or no kind of situation where each child either reaches the pass mark of 32 or does not. Those who don't retake it the following year. But I see no room to benefit from anybody getting low marks. To me it just looks as if that would give everybody who sees your school's scores a platform to launch into a list of what they regard as your mistakes.

wonderingagain Fri 10-May-13 10:34:11

The school's value added rate would increase if they had xx number of children with low phonics levels but then high attainment in SATS.

daftdame Fri 10-May-13 11:03:11

MaisieD I think it could be entirely appropriate.

If a child is old enough to skim they are old enough to learn what this skill is useful for.

Also children are asked comprehension questions at that age, mine was. Do you expect a child to answer entirely based on recall? (good if they can but what if they can't?). If they have the skill let them use it!

maizieD Fri 10-May-13 11:19:03

The school's value added rate would increase if they had xx number of children with low phonics levels but then high attainment in SATS.

I didn't know that the Phonics Check was in any way connected with National Curriculum Tests for target setting or school monitoring purposes. Can you link me to the official document which details this?

maizieD Fri 10-May-13 11:22:11

If a child is old enough to skim they are old enough to learn what this skill is useful for.

I'm questioning whether 6 is old enough.

Can you give me an example of a text for a 6y old which is so long and complex that they would need to skim read it in order to answer a comprehension question?

learnandsay Fri 10-May-13 11:29:34

Isn't skimming, rather like speed-reading, a special skill designed to get the gist of a piece of material for the purpose of summarising it? I don't think you'd expect either skill holder to answer comprehension questions would you? Aren't they designed to find out whether or not the reader has a detailed knowledge of the text, (which is the opposite of skimming and speed-reading.)

ClayDavis Fri 10-May-13 11:36:51

As far as I know, it isn't used to work out value added at all so there would be no benefit to the school in having low scores and high SATS results.

catinhat Fri 10-May-13 11:37:33

Nickname grief - you've said it all.

If it wasn't for the fact that my dds' school needs as many good results as possible (it struggles with sats averages because of a special needs unit it has on site) I be withdrawing my children from all sats.

Especially this phonics test.

Sats are to judge schools.

daftdame Fri 10-May-13 11:47:02

maizieD I speaking from personal experience. MY DC at 6yrs was able to and fluently accurately.

The texts started to get long enough in reception (where skimming was useful for comprehension), could read on school entry, anything (although not every book was appropriate in terms of prior knowledge.)

If anyone reads a book which is long enough, to not have instant recall on a text, skimming is useful. Also as I've said when someone is navigating their way round a book eg through subheadings to find relevant piece of information skimming is useful.

daftdame Fri 10-May-13 11:48:05

^ That should be I'm and able to read fluently and accurately.

maizieD Fri 10-May-13 12:59:32

If anyone reads a book which is long enough, to not have instant recall on a text, skimming is useful.


I am trying very hard to visualise a situation in a classroom where an average 6y old (not your exceptional offspring) is required to read a long book all in one go and then answer comprehension questions on it.

Are you suggesting that the child skim reads the book at first reading or does the child read the book properly first then skim read for the answers to the comprehension questions?

What sort of book are we talking about; fiction or non-fiction? What is the purpose of reading the book;for pleasure or to extract information?
(Though from what I've read of EY & KS1 'literacy' reading for pleasure is the last thing that would come to mind when the children are constantly being badgered about character, motivation, what might happen next etc...)

freetrait Fri 10-May-13 13:35:06

Perhaps an average 6 year old reader will not skim read, or should be concentrating on accuracy. But some 6 year olds, perhaps those with a significantly higher reading age, may well be able to do both. And maybe there is nothing wrong with doing it if you can also read slowly and carefully when required.

Elibean Fri 10-May-13 14:33:09

dd2's BF (aged 6) definitely skim reads at times. She is an exceptionally bright child with a high reading age, and devours full length novels - when I have read with her, it seems to me that her brain is going so fast she has trouble slowing down.

That said, if asked she can slow down and read and comprehend perfectly well. Her phonics are spot on. She just gets bored and tears off like a rocket when she forgets to slow down. She is 6, and high energy.

Naturally, as she gets older and needs to analyze texts more and more, she will need to read without skimming. Thing is, she is perfectly capable of it - and is getting better and better at slowing down because she is asked to by teachers and parent helpers.

But in her case, skimming is definitely not = to poor reader. Poor reading maybe, but not poor reader.

daftdame Fri 10-May-13 14:37:32

maizieD my child would have done either in terms of skim reading on the first read (depending on whether wanted to read book or rush through it). I had to specifically encourage slowing down where appropriate and then skimming where appropriate but this was mastered after encouragement.

The inappropriate skimming was more of a problem with scheme books that were not chosen (reading for pleasure moot point).

Unless teachers are expecting this phenomena it is difficult to say how often this is likely to happen. It was within my experience though and so is valid because it is possible.

mrz Fri 10-May-13 16:34:29

"The school's value added rate would increase if they had xx number of children with low phonics levels but then high attainment in SATS."

No it wouldn't ... the phonics check is not being used for value added

Churmy123 Wed 10-Jul-13 14:50:03

Well the phonics check has been done! My dd didn't mention it so I don't think it caused her any stress! Her class teacher was off sick the week the check was administered so they did it with the head teacher. I certainly don't think she even realised she was being 'tested' or 'checked'. Parents were told the results this week and she got 39 out of 40. So thankfully won't have to do it again in year two. And also she hasn't been affectged by the whole experience and is still enjoying reading and is currently ploughing through her famous five books and more annoyingly the rainbow magic books :-)

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now