DfE abandons Year 3 Phonics check retake

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The Department for Education (DfE) has dropped plans to introduce a retake of the phonics check in Year 3.


The DfE has decided not to introduce phonics check retakes at Year 3

The Department said it will not proceed any further with the phonics retake for seven and eight year olds, after a pilot found that nearly half failed for a third time.

Of the 1,625 Year 3 pupils from 282 schools that took part in the pilot, 49 per cent failed to meet the ‘expected standard’.

The pilot was carried out in June 2016 by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) on behalf of the Standards Testing Agency (STA).

A questionnaire devised for teachers as part of the pilot also found that 77 per cent believed the extension of the phonics screening check into Year 3 had no impact at all on teaching of phonics to pupils who have fallen behind.

The phonics check is taken by all children at the end of Year 1 and can be retaken by the end of Year 2.

Following publication of the results from the pilot, the Department for Education (DfE) confirmed it would not be going ahead with the phonics check retake at Year 3.

A spokesperson for the DfE said, ‘The Government is determined to make this country work for everyone, not just the privileged few. Ensuring all primary school children can read fluently by the time they leave primary school is fundamental to this ambition.

‘Thanks to the hard work of teachers, our continued focus on raising standards and our increased emphasis on phonics‎, there are now an additional 147,000 six-year-olds on track to becoming fluent readers. While this is a huge achievement, we know there is more to do. We will work with schools and local authorities to ensure even more young people have the knowledge and skills they need to get on in life.'

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) welcomed the decision.

Its general secretary Russell Hobby said, ‘ After a trial period, the Government has seen what many professionals have been saying: retaking phonics screening adds to workload and does not deliver for pupils.

‘The government must be commended for following the evidence. Pilots are a good way to test policy, and it’s sensible to act on what they tell you. The Government is often attracted to retakes and resits, when in fact a different approach to teaching is needed.’

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