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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.

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?

LunaticFringe Thu 13-Jun-13 20:13:23

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.

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