Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children
Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:59 pm
To save everyone the trouble of visiting the website with its extremely annoying and intrusive adverts, here is Elizabeth Nonweiler's reassuring reply to Becky Morris:
Becky, I was interested to read your post and would like to comment on some of what you have written. In the Phonics Check, the children do not have to decipher which words are real and which are made up. That would be a check on their vocabulary, but this is simply a check on their decoding skills. It is not trickery at all and it is certainly not designed to catch children out. If children have been taught common letter-sound correspondences and how to blend sounds to read words, then the check is straightforward. There are no 'tricky words' in the Phonics Check. There are no words with unusual letter-sound correspondences. They are all straightforward. Your son does not need to learn any tricky words to succeed with the Phonics Check. The Phonics Check does not check spelling so, for the Check, it does not matter how he spells 'coffee' and 'alien'. The aim is not to designed to prove how well the early years educative system is working. The aim is to check which children have mastered the basics of decoding and which need more teaching and practice. It is true that many teachers already know which children have and which have not. However, there are two reasons why the check is still a very good idea. First, it does give specific information, for example a teacher might find out that several children could not read 'thaw' so the teacher needs to provide extra practice in reading words with 'aw'. The second reason is even more important. It has been common to group children according to ability for phonics, so that the children who take longer to learn to read are taught separately, 'at their own pace'. If they are given no more time for phonics than the children who pick it up more quickly, then the gap between them and the others will get wider. By the time they go into Year 3, it is likely they will not be able to read well enough to cope with the reading and writing asked of them at this stage, both in English lessons and across the curriculum. Then a spiral of failure and low self-esteem set in. If children are checked in Year 1 and do not succeed in reaching the threshold, they will be checked again in Year 2. If they are to succeed in reaching the threshold in Year 2, the school must provide additional and effective teaching for these children to make sure they learn to read simple words easily. If children in Year 2 do not succeed, it is likely to trigger an inspection to find out what the school is doing to help those children. Hopefully, as a result of the Phonics Check, there will be fewer children beginning that downward spiral in Year 3 in the future. Your school is planning to provide extra 'coaching' for your son, twice a week. If I were you, I would be relieved to hear that. Of course, the extra coaching must be done in a way that means your son is happy, as well as learning to decode simple words easily. If he does not pass the threshold in Year 1, I hope you will make sure you know what the school is doing to help him. It would be a tragedy for him to go into Year 3 without the basic word reading skills he needs to be happy and successful.