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Anyone else heard about the new Y1 Phonics Test?

(18 Posts)
Elibean Mon 03-Oct-11 21:01:37

Our KS1 leader told me about it today. She was utterly depressed and said she felt like giving up - after 20 years of outstanding teaching. I know she won't, but sad

camicaze Mon 03-Oct-11 21:19:15

Don't have a problem with it. Its just to check if they have grasped the basic phonics. Children shouldn't even know its a formal test and its very quick. If the school teaches phonics well (majority of schools), most kids will have no problem. If they don't even make sure kids know their letter sounds - as in my dd's reception- its good news. Those schools are making life really difficult for the children they teach and will need to respond to the inevitable poor scores. In the trials virtually all schools said trhe test was a useful and positive experience. Many trial schools said that the test had highlighted children they didn't realise had an issue with phonological awareness-really good news for those kids.

spanieleyes Mon 03-Oct-11 21:21:12

We assess our children's phonic knowledge on a regular basis, they don't see it as a test, just a chance to show off how well they are doing!

mrz Mon 03-Oct-11 21:23:42

It is only formalising what good schools do already.

IndigoBell Mon 03-Oct-11 21:32:32

Exactly. The test is a good thing. Any teacher who is scared of it is not teaching phonics well, and what they are scared of is that showing up.

Now they are not teaching phonics well for a variety of reasons, often because they don't believe in phonics or their HT / Literacy co-ordinator doesn't believe in phonics. (Or because they've been teaching 20 years and 'best practice' has changed over that time.)

So the test will do 2 things. Encourage schools to teach phonics properly, and identify students early who are having difficulty learning phonics.

Every week we have yet another thread started by someone wanting to know if their child is dyslexic. This test should reduce that significantly.

There will be less worried parents because their children will be taught better in R and Y1, so there will be less children unable to read simple sentences by the end of Y1.

And there will be less worried parents, because the children who aren't learning at the correct pace will be acknowledged and identified at the end of Y1, instead of telling the parent to wait and see till they're 7.

(Although you'll still get loads of well meaning posters here spouting that...)

Orchidskeepdying Mon 03-Oct-11 21:59:14

I love teaching phonics - it's my favourite part of the day! But i just moved away from teaching year 2 to get away from tests!!!

maizieD Mon 03-Oct-11 22:02:16

The Y1 phonics check was piloted in 300 schools this summer. The pilot was independently evaluated and the evaluation report can be downloaded HERE

What I found particularly worrying was that, despite official guidance on phonics teaching going to all primary schools in 2007, 74% of the schools involved in the pilot still taught their children to guess words from pictures and context.

Feenie Mon 03-Oct-11 22:03:10

It's only 6 minutes with each child - can't see the difference between that and listening to readers, tbh. It's not as if they will be doing anything they don't do every day anyway.

The amount of money spent on the bureaucracy annoyed me at first - but from my own experiences at my ds's school and from here on MN, it's obvious that some schools still do not teach phonics effectively and need bringing into line.

moondog Mon 03-Oct-11 22:04:45

I'd hear serious alarm bells Eli if a teacher said that to me.

ASByatt Mon 03-Oct-11 22:17:38

I'm not hugely enthusiastic about this test. I feel that a decent school doesn't need it, because staff will already know exactly where their pupils are with their phonic knowledge and application, whilst a crap school won't know what to do to help their pupils anyway..........

So I'm a bit meh about it.
sorry, it's been a meh sort of day.

maizieD Mon 03-Oct-11 22:22:44

whilst a crap school won't know what to do to help their pupils anyway..........

But as Ofsted will use the results of the 'check' as part of their data when inspecting schools (according to the new Framework) it may help to concentrate the minds of 'crap schools' somewhat...

moondog Mon 03-Oct-11 22:30:22

Great.
It will help identify the crap schools (or rather teachers) more quickly then. God knows, there are enough of them about.

ASByatt Mon 03-Oct-11 22:32:54

maizie and moondog - I suppose so, but I've never had much faith in OFSTED to do anything properly either so.......

I think maybe I need to focus my thoughts on the decent schools for a few minutes before I drown in my own cynicism!

Feenie Mon 03-Oct-11 22:35:13

Who identifies the crap SALTs then, Moondog? Seriously? Ours is dire, we've had her for years.

Elibean Mon 03-Oct-11 22:36:52

No alarm bells whatsoever - phonics are taught really well at the school, and both dds have had a good experience with reading.

I'm actually moderately reassured by the posts here - it sounds as though the test is not expected to be as formal as the teacher was led to believe/believed. Her problem was not with assessing the children, it was with the idea of formal tests and a set date for them - I think she probably reacted in the context of other stuff.

For myself, I suppose I was worrying about kids aged 5-6 being judged on their phonics knowledge when they are still in a stage of development which encompasses a huge variation - some of them are simply not interested in phonics at that age, or in displaying what they know about phonics, and then the same kids take off like rockets in Y2. I've seen it happen in dd's class (they all - all 25 of them - read well now in Y3, but were far more varied a year ago).

Thanks - if they are not tests the kids will be aware of, that is something: I am reassured and will pass on that reassurance, if needed, to the lady in question!

maizieD Mon 03-Oct-11 23:07:01

I would get her to read the evaluation report!

Though I have found that some teachers are very reluctant to read 'official' documents. They seem to much prefer a system of rumour and Chinese Whispers...

ASByatt Mon 03-Oct-11 23:13:38

Perhaps they're busy, maizie?

Actually I do know what you mean, a pseudo-hysterical response to something without actually investigating it first is common, but I do wonder of that's the product of working in a school - it can be quite a pressure-cooker.

moondog Tue 04-Oct-11 18:36:04

That's the problem with the public sector Feenie.
Short of someone murdering someone, or raiding the accounts, one is generally stuck with them.
Not a system I subscribe to at all.

Most professionals don't read the documents wqith which they are meant to be acquainted.

Too busy?
Huh.
More like too bloody lazy .

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