Phonics test criticised by literacy association

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A former President of the UK Literacy Association has criticised the Government’s proposed phonics test for six-year-olds, although his research is cited in the recent Department for Education White Paper as justification for the test.

Professor Brooks warns that the test will inevitably become 'high-stakes' and lead to anxiety for parents and children as well as putting pressure on schools.

He said the entire paraphernalia and procedure of national tests would be complex and the expenditure which would be wasted in a time of austerity would be significant.

"No test which is to be applied annually to all 600,000 children in a cohort can possibly be light-touch," he said in a paper published by UKLA.

Professor Brooks suggested an alternative system that relied on teachers to identify which of their pupils, by the middle of Year 1, had not yet made a satisfactory start in learning to read, write and spell.

"Such a system would avoid needless anxiety for children who are making satisfactory progress, and for their parents, place proper professional reliance on teachers, and above all reassure the parents of children who are not making satisfactory progress that their children’s needs are being met", said Professor Brooks. "It would also put the money involved in creating these needless tests to far more productive use."

The UKLA is calling on the government to reject plans on the proposed ‘light touch’ ‘reading’ test for 6 year olds.

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