My Experience: Y1 Phonics Screening Check

This may or may not be a controversial post…

Miss NHM has her Y1 Phonics test next week. Apparently it is a 5-10 minute check of words that is done with a teacher that is “known” to her.

We haven’t done any preparation for the test. I’ve read all sorts of horror stories about parents who are hiring experts to “coach” their children for these tests. The parent Y1 Facebook group was all of a flurry during half term, with parents spending a couple of HOURS going through the “phonics workbooks” that were sent home at the end of term. (Workbooks for 6 year olds. Phonics for HOURS during half term. Seriously???!!!)

(My favourite bit on the facebook group is when parents post up the list of spellings for the week, because there is invariably some child who didn’t get their spellings that week, with their children’s answers next to them. All written perfectly of course.)

In the past week I’ve read LOTS of stuff about the Phonics test, what it involves and why it’s being done. I really don’t understand why the Department of Education feels the need to test 6 year olds on anything and that ANY child, under the age of 13 can be listed as having “failed” at anything. A great way to make the parents AND child feel like failures.

Anyway, my understanding is the reason for the phonics test is to try to increase the number of children who read?

I’m sorry, but am I missing something here? It seems obvious to me that the best way to get children to read is to switch off the TV and technology!!

Just switch off the TV!

Why do we insist on making things so complicated? Why do we have these overly complicated tests that cost a fortune to run, when we should be trusting teachers to do their jobs and parents to invest in their children by switching off the TV and encouraging them to read or listen to audio books?

Personally, I had never heard of a digraph or trigraph before Miss NHM’s homework a few weeks ago. I understand that teaching techniques have changed considerably since I was a child but if I’ve managed to get through THE WHOLE OF MY LIFE without knowing what a “trigraph” is, then why is it so important that it be drummed into my daughter?

Honestly, the more I see and experience about our current education system in the UK, the more I slap my head repeatedly.

Er, so maybe a bit controversial and maybe a bit ranty too but that’s the perk of having your own blog! 😀 😀 :-D.

I know you won’t hold back but what are your thoughts on the Y1 Phonics test?

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3 thoughts on “My Experience: Y1 Phonics Screening Check

  1. D Clarke Reply

    meh my daughter did the test. No prep, no lead up, nothing. She got 39/40. She didn’t know it was a test we didn’t mention it at home. It was just another assessment exercise to her. It is meant to highlight if a child is showing signs of needing support ie dyslexia etc so look at it as a chance to get any needed help rather than the child “failing” it’s only a big thing if we make it one x

  2. Rebecca Reply

    I totally agree. I have written a 50,000 word thesis without knowing what a digraph is. I hate phonics!

  3. J Sayers Reply

    I am a year 1 and 2 teacher and my school’s reading leader. My specialism is in the teaching of early reading strategies, including (but not exclusively) phonics On the one hand I have very mixed feelings about the need for a phonic screening assessment in Year 1 where our eldest are only 6. On the other, I have seen for myself how methodical, well taught, phonic principles can open up the magical world of reading for all children, including those who are not lucky enough to have supportive parents who share books and stories at home from an early age.

    Phonics is most effective when applied to the reading of real words and then applied to proper books with pictures, characters and events. My children read flash cards containing their new and current sounds every day (including digraphs and trigraphs were two or more letters make just one sound e.g. sh, th, oy, ee), they then read these sounds in real words and in turn, meet in our current book. They quickly begin to read for meaning and in context and are encouraged to express their thoughts and ideas about the story and character. They read and spell digraphs and trigraphs all of the time but we never use those terms and would most certainly never expect the children to. Our children recognise these letter groups as “special friends” who work together to build their words.

    The approach has been incredibly effective in our area of high social deprivation among all pupils – those who read at home and those who don’t. I do use a few nonsense words in my teaching (this assesses their level of cognitive development in reading by focusing on their ability to “sound out” words in the correct order unhindered by already “known” sight vocabulary)
    but this is just a small part of a very much larger teaching programme. I am very concerned that the government’s presentation of phonics as an exercise in “barking” at nonsensical letter formations is confusing for parents and undermines its real importance. My ultimate dread is that the bad press phonics receives will have it removed from the curriculum to the detriment of our children’s reading and spelling skills!!

    I wrote a 50,000 word thesis once too – on phonics. Phonics rock!!

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