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Phonics screening test

(225 Posts)
Mashabell Thu 29-Nov-12 10:06:42

There is a very good article on the madness of the phonics screening test in todays i (the 20 p version of The Independent) and some of its silliest effects.

BooksandaCuppa Thu 29-Nov-12 22:07:45

That's good, then, thanks, Feenie.

I was thinking more of the parents/phonics bashers who seem not to realise that reading made up/nonsense words is something we need to do all the time (not only when encountering new vocab as mrz oftens mentions but place/people's names too). There's quite a lot of 'my child needs to read real words not nonsense ones' on here!

(I am the avid reader who thought that 'albeit' was pronounced 'al-bait' until I was in sixth form - I was clearly using phonics even though I was taught with look and say!)

squeezedatbothends Thu 29-Nov-12 22:10:09

Booksandcuppas but we're not reading made up and nonsense words. We're reading people's real names. They exist. There are enough challenging and new words in the world with which we can test children's decoding skills without having to confuse them by making them up.

mrz Thu 29-Nov-12 22:10:13

BooksandaCuppa the teacher administering the check was given clear instructions of what they should say when introducing the check

"The following text provides an example of how teachers could introduce the check.
• In this activity, I am going to ask you to read some words aloud.
• You may have seen some of the words before and others will be new to you.
• You should try to read each word but don’t worry if you can’t. If it helps you, you may sound out the letters before trying to say the word.

• This practice sheet shows you what the words will look like.
• Have a go at reading out loud these four words which you should have come
across before [at, in, beg and sum].
• The words on this side [turn over practice sheet] are not real words. They are names for types of imaginary creatures. You can see a picture of the creature next to each word."

EdithWeston Thu 29-Nov-12 22:11:44

Phonics is a centuries old tried and tested method. Survey after survey shows it produces better results in more children than any other method or mix of methods.

It is however the method for teaching how to access text at all. It is not wider literacy, and I do not think that this of us who point out its superiority ever claim it is. It should not therefore be criticised for something no-one says it does. But a secure phonic base is the best springboard to all that comes as reading matures.

BooksandaCuppa Thu 29-Nov-12 22:15:03

squeezed can't have been on the baby name threads if you don't think that there are plenty of 'made up' names...joke!

BooksandaCuppa Thu 29-Nov-12 22:17:08

mrz, thanks, Feenie also explained that but I seem to remember from the summer some schools explaining (like simpson is suggesting hers did) that these were alien 'words' not names. Anyway, that's all splitting hairs...most teachers on here seem to feel it didn't disadvantage the 'good' readers and that's good enough for me.

mrz Thu 29-Nov-12 22:17:22

Robin Alexander (who incidentally is a bit of a hero of mine) left teaching in 1977 and phonics taught in the 70s 80s and 90s was vastly different to current methods ... sound of the week ... onset and rime ... so I would hope the signatories aren't basing their views on their own past experience ...

InNeedOfBrandy Thu 29-Nov-12 22:21:18

I haven't read all this thread. My dd is top in the top set for everything, she's 7 just after christmas and is reading charlie and the chocolate factory, reads and comprehends, yet she failed her phonics test... Where as my ds whos in yr 1 now will probably pass his phonics even though he's still reading really basic books like the cat ran to the park type.

But basically my dd failed on the made up words as she's a natural reader.

BooksandaCuppa Thu 29-Nov-12 22:24:09

And I'm someone who thinks my autistic ds learned to read more from whole word recognition than from the little phonics teaching he had (he's now yr 7 adn school were late-ish to adopt SP) but he has obviously worked out the code for himself as he merrily reads much new vocab all the time as well as 'nonsense' words and names in the hundreds of fantasy novels he immerses himself in. Lucky him. I want other people's children to have access to the code in case they can't.

squeezedatbothends Thu 29-Nov-12 22:24:39

Edith, I'm not suggesting it's not important or useful (although the research is more mixed than you suggest). Certainly I'd agree that it's a great starting point on the road to reading. It's the form of the test and the way it is used that I have an issue with. Firstly the idea of calling it a 'reading' test as the government did when it is nothing more than a decoding test, and then using data to bash teachers as Nick Gibb did - asserting for example that the poor results were indicative that teachers were not teaching children to read properly was flawed at best. I don't think I'll ever be convinced that teaching children to read nonsense is a good idea, so we'll never change each other's minds on that I suspect. You either think it is or you don't, but I've been in the business of either teaching children to read or teaching teachers to teach children to read for twenty years, have always used phonics (even when not fashionable) and have never needed to use invented language to prove that they can read! Blimey that was a convoluted sentence!

BooksandaCuppa Thu 29-Nov-12 22:25:23

My last post sounded a snidey reply to your comment, brandy, (similar opening wording) but was a genuine cross-post.

mrz Thu 29-Nov-12 22:27:38

As I've said numerous times our children who were capable of reading Dahl and Morpurgo breezed through the test without hesitation

Feenie Thu 29-Nov-12 22:28:43

Ours too.

mrz Thu 29-Nov-12 22:30:38

You are a rare breed squeezed ...most teachers say no one ever taught them how to teach children to read.

squeezedatbothends Thu 29-Nov-12 22:32:13

Exactly Simpson! There are so many new words for them to learn that there isn't a need to invent ones that don't exist. Just think how good they'd be at scrabble if we replaced all the nonsense words with real, rare ones smile

BooksandaCuppa Thu 29-Nov-12 22:33:26

All of my teaching friends say the same, mrz. One hour on reading. One hour on classroom behaviour. No hours on SEN. In four years' teacher training...

Why were they/you doing 35 hr weeks at Uni whilst we Eng Lit undergrads were doing 8!!??

mrz Thu 29-Nov-12 22:33:34

BooksandaCuppa interestingly the handful of children I've encountered over the years (including my own son) who were genuine natural whole word readers were all autistic.

Feenie Thu 29-Nov-12 22:35:27

That's also my experience - and all left us to go to special schools in Y7.

InNeedOfBrandy Thu 29-Nov-12 22:38:43

Iv'e just read the top of the thread now, in my dc school they don't learn spellings as such till year 2. They are taught to spell how they think it sounds phonically, so yes wat/wot would be fine although if they did write what that would be praised. Only now are they given spellings to learn at home and the teacher is starting to correct spellings in books.

Oh my dd is a natural whole word reader, a genuine one I hope you were not implying anything there? And she is not Autistic as far as I know, you are quite welcome to hear her read if you'd like.

squeezedatbothends Thu 29-Nov-12 22:39:53

Gosh, really? This is what happens to universities when they don't adequately teach synthetic phonics. They get an unsatisfactory ofsted. Only unis graded as outstanding are allowed to keep their numbers for teacher training so they lay off large members of staff. If students grade their university in their NQT satisfaction survey as not preparing them to teach phonics, it triggers an immediate TDA inspection. If provision is not deemed satisfactory, the university has its numbers slashed and its courses withdrawn with immediate effect. It's hard to believe that in the face of that pressure, there are lecturers who are not teaching phonics (whether they agree with it or not). In our place we have to train and still teach in schools - I'm on secondment in school at the moment. We're expected to keep up to date across both primary and secondary.

BooksandaCuppa Thu 29-Nov-12 22:42:12

I think ds falls into the halfway/mixed methods category really, as obviously he has continued to be able to decode not memorise. It was just interesting that in reception he learned words like 'look' 'adventure' with a specific shape much more quickly than, for example, decoding 'bat'. He also spelled/spells with a visual rather than an aural memory, I think. So he never used any of these really bizarre but phonically plausible attempts that other children use. (eg he might spell 'plausible' as 'plausable' but never 'plorsibal' as other year 1s might.

(I imagine it as he has a code of syllables/blocks which plausibly make up words rather than a code of sounds, iyswim, even though his pronunciation is very good)

mrz Thu 29-Nov-12 22:43:07

InNeedOfBrandy my reply was to BooksandaCUppa who said her autistic son was a whole word learner nothing to do with your child

BooksandaCuppa Thu 29-Nov-12 22:43:29

squeezed I assume most of us are referring to teacher training from two decades or more ago.

learnandsay Thu 29-Nov-12 22:46:21

I'm slightly confused as to what a natural whole word reader is. When my daughter was very young, too young to understand sounding out words, she would recognise some words and not others. And if she recognised a word she would read it and if she didn't recognise it she would say I don't know that word.

I don't think there's anything unnatural about that.

mrz Thu 29-Nov-12 22:47:35

Well I've had a number of teaching students all who say they've had no or very little input from their Outstanding Universities squeezed and observing them teaching suggests they aren't joking.
My friend who delivers phonics training for a number of ITT establishments reports she is allocated half a day

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