Page 10 of 11

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:59 pm
by Susan Godsland
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.

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Thu May 07, 2015 3:38 pm
by Susan Godsland
Really bad arguments made by a headteacher (and then published in the TES) to convince people to vote for the incoming SoS to scrap the phonics screening check ... streamline
If you were Secretary of State for Education, what changes would be at the top of your agenda to make schools fairer, better and more appealing places to work? I’ve used a variety of sources to collect together a number of #QuickWins a new Secretary of State could make. They don’t need any legislative changes and none of them would do any harm to children, in fact, they may improve things significantly.
Scrap the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check
The screening is considered by many to be a ridiculous waste of time and energy, as the test only checks decoding skills rather than actually what a child reads and understands. It is in place to ensure that schools deliver synthetic phonics as the primary way of delivery of the teaching of reading. It does not greatly enhance the teaching of reading, just the teaching of decoding skills. For more able children, going over the laborious sounding out and blending actually detracts from the meaning, whereas children with specific special educational needs, such as children with Down's Syndrome, do not learn to read by the synthetic phonics methodology.

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Thu May 07, 2015 4:02 pm
by Elizabeth
I have just posted a response.

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Thu May 07, 2015 4:07 pm
by Susan Godsland
Thank you, Elizabeth.

Here's the link to the comments: ... /#comments

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Fri May 08, 2015 4:46 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
I've posted a comment too, to add to Elizabeth's.

We have to keep chipping away in support of the Year One Phonics Screening Check.

It really has raised awareness in infant and primary schools about 'teaching effectiveness' and many schools are investigating what they can do better or differently to improve their phonics check results.

It's also very important if one is an author, or publisher, of a phonics programme to get feedback from schools regarding their results from using the programme close to the guidance of the author.

This all contributes to understanding of programme effectiveness as well as teaching effectiveness - the 'potential' of the programme when used well.

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Sat May 30, 2015 6:50 pm
by Lesley Drake
Amazing to see the usual canards about Downs children and children-who- can- already- read- being- force-fed- phonics being rolled out yet again!

The PSC is needed not just for educational reasons but for political reasons too. In education there is so much political animosity to teaching children to read quickly with phonics by people who really should know better,because it affronts their entrenched views about how children learn.

Plus they don't like being told what to do by the government.

Well if the teaching profession hadn't been misled all these years by these same politically motivated pied pipers, perhaps there wouldn't be any need for a PSC.

As things stand currently, it is obviously needed more than ever. The more it is attacked, the more you know it is working.

It might be good fun to have a thread running where we can post all the excuses the Rosenati of this world come up with to prevent little children being taught to read quickly with phonics.

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Sun May 31, 2015 12:40 pm
by Susan Godsland
It might be good fun to have a thread running where we can post all the excuses the Rosenati of this world come up with to prevent little children being taught to read quickly with phonics
We could always add to this thread? ... 35&start=0

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:51 am
by Susan Godsland
Oh dear :sad:

Head Teacher Tim Clarke writes about the phonics check.

Alien words or an alien concept? ... n-concept/
Don’t get me wrong, I think phonics are an important strategy in learning to be a reader and for most children it is an invaluable tool. But it is not the only strategy, and the screening test does not take this into account

For some of my pupils, who have advanced onto Phase 5 in their phonics learning and are becoming fluent and comprehending readers, they often over think and try to rationalise the alien words in practice examples. They are actually too advanced as readers to do really well on the test because they are already using a wide range of strategies in their reading.

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:32 am
by Elizabeth
I have written a response.

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2015 12:14 pm
by maizie
It hasn't yet appeared, Elizabeth.

Do you have a copy that you could post on here?

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2015 12:23 pm
by Elizabeth
Here's what I wrote:

Hi Tim

I am enthusiastic about the Phonics Check, because I am convinced it is doing good and improving the teaching of reading. However, I agree that teaching children to read nonsense words is not a good use of time. They should be taught to read real words.

I do think asking children to read nonsense words is good for assessment. If children can read nonsense words, they are not daunted by real words that are unfamiliar to them. As they read more advanced texts, they will often be faced with unfamiliar words. If they can make a good attempt at pronouncing these words, without being daunted, they are able to concentrate on meaning. They can usually get close to the meaning from the context and so their vocabulary increases.
There is no need to teach nonsense words in order to be able to read them. I suggest that every day teachers plan to teach children a word that is likely to be unfamiliar to them, using letter-sound correspondences they have taught. When a real word is unfamiliar to children, it looks like a nonsense word to them. Then, after they have read the word, the teacher can spend a minute explaining what it means.

Of course, it is a good idea to make sure children understand the idea of nonsense words, before they take part in the Phonics Check. I know of one school where they did not teach any nonsense words until the week before the Check. Then the headteacher walked into the Year 1 classroom dressed up as an alien. He told the children he had come from another planet and these were the animals on his planet. He drew pictures of weird animals and wrote nonsense words beside them for the children to read. That school got good results.

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2015 5:22 pm
by pjay
I will, again,be administering the check in my school. The DfS has made it very clear this year that the security of the test materials must be ensured. I am pleased at their insistence on this as in previous years the contents of the test have become available on the internet after the first day of testing.
I have had children, including teachers' children, who have informed me that they have been practising the words at home! I try to make sure that those likely to have been coached in this year's words do the test first- on Monday certainly. The opportunities for abuse of this test are obvious.

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:24 am
by Lesley Drake
Very depressed to see Project X Alien story books appear in schools.

The publishers obviously think that schools want these books in order to practise reading alien words.

Because the PSC has become a high stakes test, schools are doing daft, desperate things to boost results, when all they really need to do is teach phonics properly, using a programme properly.

Unintended consequences, or what?

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:18 am
by chew8
I’ve been able to get hold of end-of-Year 4 reading ages (single word reading) of 17 children for whom Year 1 phonics check results are also known - they were in the first cohort to do the check (i.e. did it in 2012). These children will have turned 9 during the 2014-15 school year. Those who did well in the phonics check now all have reading ages comfortably above chronological age, whereas those who did not reach the threshold mark of 32 now have reading ages below chronological age. The results are as follows – phonics check mark first, then current reading age:

40 – over 14 years 5 months (test ceiling)
40- - 12:9
39 – 14:5+
38 – 12:4
37 – 14:5+
37 – 12:5
36 – 12:5
35 – 10:6
35 - 11:4
34 – 11:4
34 – 11:7
33 – 11:4
32 – 10:10
31 – 9:0
30 – 8:2
23 – 8:4
23 – 7:8

Jenny C.

Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:01 am
by Papermover
Thank you so much Jenny.