Sunderland phonics tests pilot leads to national scheme

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PRIMARY school children across Wearside will be among thousands to be tested for their reading skills.

In June next year every Year 1 pupil will be screened with a new phonics check in a bid to raise the standards of reading.

This summer 300 primary schools across the country, including two in Sunderland – St Joseph’s RC Primary and East Herrington Primary – took part in a pilot of the tests.

Results revealed 43 per cent of teachers had been able to pinpoint six-year-old pupils with reading problems of which they were not previously aware and these children will now be given additional support to improve.

Results also showed the majority of teachers found most aspects of it appropriate, pupils found it a positive experience and it took between four and nine minutes for each pupil to complete.

Now the check, which involves teachers taking pupils through a booklet of 40 words on a one-to-one basis, is being rolled out to every school and all Year 1 pupils will be screened between June 18 and 22, 2012.

Phonics focuses on sounds rather than children having to recognise whole words.

The Government is hoping if the success of the pilot is replicated many more children will get the extra reading help they need.

England has slipped down the international table for reading in primary schools and The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) of 10-year-olds saw England fall from third out of 35 countries in 2001 to 15th out of 40 countries in 2006.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “Ensuring that every child leaves primary school as a fluent and confident reader is key to raising academic standards overall and is important in closing the attainment gap between those from poorer and wealthier backgrounds.

“The new check is based on a method that is internationally proven to help children learn to read and the evidence from the pilot is clear.

“Thousands of six-year-olds, who would otherwise slip through the net, will get the extra reading help they need to become good readers, to flourish at secondary school and to enjoy a lifetime’s love of reading.”

Twitter: @sunechoschools