Phonics screening test, learning with objects and reading intervention

Learning phonics

Phonics screening check valid but unnecessary

A study to look at the validity of the new phonics screening test, undertaken by year 1 pupils in England, has concluded that it is a valid but unnecessary test. The test does help identify school children who are falling behind with their reading but is not any more useful or informative than teacher assessments that have already been conducted.

Led by Oxford University psychologists in collaboration with the University of York and City of York, the local authority queried if the test was needed as a statutory assessment.

Later this month, the phonics screening check will be used again for this year’s six year-olds in year 1 at primary school in England. The phonics check requires pupils to read aloud 40 real and made-up words.

The researchers argue that ongoing monitoring of pupils as they learn phonics during early development of literacy skills is of greater benefit to teachers than the screening test.

History teaching with SEN pupils

A researcher at the University of York has been looking at the impact of using historical objects on the learning of children at key stage 2 with special educational needs (SEN).

Jennifer Kinsmen found that pupils in her study group engaged and enjoyed learning about the past using a object-oriented approach to teaching and most showed improvement from session to session.

Kinsmen found the most interesting data came from those children with the lowest levels of attainment due to the severity of their SEN who, when using an object-focused approach, achieved consecutive high marks in each session. Their historical inquiry skills developed as they were able to determine what the objects were used for and what the objects were able to tell us about the people who left them behind.

Her thesis concluded that this more tactile approach to learning suited the children’s learning styles greater than a more passive approach.

Reading interventions study

It is never too late to help pupils struggling to read say the authors of anew report into extensive reading interventions.

Researchers from Florida State University, the University of Texas and the American Institutes for Research looked at evidence for pupils aged 10 to 18 with reading difficulties. The research focused on school-wide, long-term models for intervention and found that from the middle of primary school there is less emphasis on learning to read and this had serious consequences for those children who hadn’t yet mastered the skill.

The report found no significant differences in pupil outcomes were achieved by changes to group size, hours of intervention or the year of intervention and concluded that although accelerated reading growth in the later year of school is challenging, it isn’t too late to help struggling readers.


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