Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Phonics screening check: what we learned (1)

The phonics screening check told us:

1. Some children who are good readers will fail.
2. Some teachers were stressed by it.Some weren't.
3. Some children were stressed by the test.Some weren't.
4. Some schools prepared for the test by doing mock tests. Some didn't.
5. Some children were stressed by that. Some weren't.
6. Most teachers I heard from said that the test pretty well told them what they knew already.
7. Statistically, they are complete nonsense: to repeat - if 67/68% failed the pilot but about 80% of children learn to read, this test is a lousy predictor of which children will learn to read.
8. All centralised testing regimes end up being the means by which central government controls the curriculum. If you think that this control is benign, fine. If  you think that it has rarely been benign and in this time it is far from benign, then we're in trouble.
9. Millions of pounds have been spent on delivering phonics education and testing. This is based on research which shows that phonics delivers most children reading phonically (ie 'decoding'). However, phonics does not deliver children who read for meaning, or children who read for pleasure. There is no research to show that phonics delivers a higher score for reading for meaning at year 6 than using mixed methods. It's a scandal that phonics first, fast and only, policed by this test, has been rolled out for everyone on the basis of NOT achieving better scores for reading for meaning than the mixed method.
10. Why won't the government spend money on reading for meaning?
11. Why did Nick Gibb refuse to implement Ofted's recommendation that all schools should produce policies on reading for enjoyment? (His rationale was that central government doesn't like to ask schools to produce policies anymore! No, central government is just carrying on ruling by cabal and diktat, producing polices that must be obeyed (see Draft Primary English Curriculum) and the forced taking over of schools and turning them into academies (see Save Downhills).
12. Libraries are closing. There is no legal  requirement for schools to have libraries.

That's the environment of how schools relate to the printed word as of tonight.

The next phase will be when we hear the results and how these are interpreted.