When I saw this report, I had to double-check the date to make sure it wasn’t someone at the ‘Mail’ jumping the gun with an ‘April Fool’:
A Government initiative to test school literacy levels will see more than 500,000 six-year-olds asked to read ‘words’ such as jound, terg, fape and snemp.
During the summer term, teachers will sit down individually with every Year 1 child and ask them to read the so-called ‘pseudo-words’ as a way of gauging reading levels.
And if you were worried that there might be an obvious problem looming, well, worry not; they are waaaaay ahead of you there!
Officials preparing this year’s test are having to ensure that none of the non-words is offensive or rude in the mother tongue of pupils whose first language is not English.
There is, however, another obvious problem:
The non-words will have a picture of an imaginary creature next to them as a signal that the word is made up and could be the name of the pretend creature.
Let’s recap, then – these are Year 1 children. Reared on a diet of imaginary creatures in things like ‘Ben 10’ or Disney movies. They are probably just as ‘real’ to them as their dog or cat, if they have one.
Probably more real than the animals that produce their bacon and eggs at breakfast, if the rumours around children’s lack of knowledge of farming are true, and if there’s an industry grown up around that, why shouldn’t it be?
So how are they going to recognise an imaginary creature as imaginary?
Professor Dominic Wyse of the Institute of Education said: ‘Clearly, non-words don’t have any meaning. Understanding meaning is the essence of reading so we must ask if this test really assesses reading.
‘Attention to other aspects of reading such as enjoyment and comprehension are likely to be restricted because of the focus on phonics.’
Ahhh, prof, no-one reads for enjoyment or comprehension any more! Get with the programme!