From June, a new test for five and six year olds is being introduced into schools. The test, intended to help improve literacy rates, will take place for all children at the end of Year 1 and will involve them reading 20 real words and 20 made up words to their teachers. This will test whether children can understand phonics, which are how letters and groups of letter sound, and will take between 5 and 10 minutes.
Phonics are already used in schools, as they are internationally proven to help children learn to read. However, the government believes that this should be done more systematically, in order to identify what children need more help and support. However, the tests have attracted criticism from the National Union of Teachers.
The NUT were going to boycott the tests altogether, but have instead decided to campaign against them and only boycott them if they are used in league tables. Apparently, in pilot tests, two-thirds of children failed the test, and the NUT believes that it will be demoralising for young children to be labelled as failures. They also feel that parents may be inclined to think that phonics are the only way to teach reading when a tailored approach is needed, and that teachers should be trusted to use their own judgement.
The tests will be going ahead as intended this summer, so time will tell how the government intends to use the results and how they affect schools. What are your views on the subject? Are tests needed to identify weak areas and help improve them, or do they put unnecessary stress on children and teachers? Let us know what you think in the comments below, on our Facebook page or over on Twitter, we’d love to hear what you have to say.