X Close

IOE Blog

Home

Expert opinion from IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society

Menu

Schools’ varied Covid stories make sitting the Phonics Test meaningless

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 November 2021

Alice Bradbury and Gemma Moss.

This autumn term, for the second year running, the Phonics Screening Check (PSC) will be taking place in Year 2 classrooms for all pupils, rather than the usual system of testing everyone at the end of Year 1. The Covid crisis led to the suspension of all statutory testing in the summer of 2021 and no other assessments have been moved, only the PSC. This means that Year 2 pupils who have missed out on months of classroom time last year will be taken out of their classrooms this term, to test their phonics decoding skills by asking them to read aloud 40 words and pseudo-words.

The PSC is intended to monitor the quality of phonics teaching in the school as well as to provide information on individuals for teachers. This year’s use of the test, however, will be meaningless unless local circumstances are taken into account, because the pandemic has affected schools in such a variety of ways. Our IOE research found that schools reacted in complex and thoughtful ways to the impacts of Covid on their communities, taking into account circumstances that made home learning difficult for pupils; each school has its own ‘Covid story’.

Varied local circumstances meant children had a wide range of needs, including insufficient food or heating for (more…)

Phonics test: changing pedagogy through assessment

Blog Editor, IOE Digital30 September 2014

Alice Bradbury

If you want to change what teachers teach, should you change the curriculum, or change the assessment? For the last three years, all six-year-olds in England have had to take a Phonics Screening Check test, which they can either pass or fail. The introduction of this test by the coalition government was controversial, as there is much debate over the use of phonics in the teaching of reading. This year’s results have just been heralded as a victory for phonics as a greater proportion of children passed. However, if we look back at the evolution of this policy, as I have done in a paper presented last week at BERA and now published in the Oxford Review of Education, we can see that the purpose of the Phonics Screening Check has always been surrounded by confusion.
(more…)