The UK Literacy Association has warned Education Secretary Michael Grove that a new reading test is a waste of money.
Plans for the literacy test were announced last year in a bid to identify children with poor reading skills to stop them slipping through the net. The test is based on phonics, the decoding of words by sounds, and requires pupils to make out a series of words, some of which have been made up to test their reading skills.
“The government is proposing to spend millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money every year on a test which will increase workload, undermine teaching time, fail in its core purpose of accurately identifying children’s needs in reading and is unnecessary in promoting the already present teaching of phonics,” said the open letter to Michael, which was printed in the Independent.
Two-fifths of teachers said the test has helped them identify struggling children, though more than half of the schools thought the test didn’t help with this. Also, 72% of pilot schools said “pseudowords” caused confusion for most of their students, revealed a government-commissioned report last month.
“In the light of the findings from the evaluation of the pilot we are sure that ministers will be reconsidering the need for phonics test for 6-year-olds,” the letter added.
The letter was signed by a total of 19 individuals from teaching unions and educational ministers.
Despite the campaign, it looks like the plans for the test will still be going ahead.
“Pupils who need more help to master phonics need to be identified as early as possible, which is why we will introduce a phonics check for 6-year-olds from next year,” said Department for Education spokesman (DfE), reports the BBC.