More than 3,000 primary school pupils across Leeds have not reached the expected standard in a controversial new phonics reading test which has come under fire from a teaching union for branding children as “failures” at the age of six.
These youngsters will now be targeted for extra help with their reading after falling short of the benchmark in the test which was brought in this year.
The new phonics test asks pupils at the end of the end of their first year of formal schooling to sound out or decode words, including some of which are made up such as such as “voo”, “terg” and “bim” , to check their reading skill.
In Leeds 61 per cent of pupils met the “required standard of phonic decoding.” This was the second best score across the Yorkshire region.
Around 3,300 six-year-olds in the city did not make the grade, however,
Across Yorkshire almost half the pupils who sat the 40 question test this year failed to hit the Government target with the region failing to match the national average performance.
New data from the Department for Education also shows that by the time pupils are assessed at seven-years-old Yorkshire has fallen further behind the rest of the country and has England’s lowest level of pupils reaching the expected standard in both reading and writing.
Education and Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss said the reading check helps teachers identify those pupils who need extra help. “Many thousands of children will now receive the extra support they need to develop a love of reading,” she added.
But the leader of a head teachers’ union has warned it could actually damage pupils’ progress.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “We know from year one teachers that among those who struggled to pass the test were the able readers who attempted to convert nonsense words such as ‘strom’ into words with which they were already familiar, in this case ‘storm.’
“The phonics test is a misguided piece of bureaucracy which should be consigned to history.”