18/06/2012 12:47 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Teachers' Unions Oppose Phonic Reading Tests For Six-Year-Olds

Reading test for six year olds are flawed and could be damaging say teachers PA

Teaching unions have said that the controversial new reading tests for six-year-olds are flawed and could be damaging.

Three unions have criticised the tests inclusion of made-up words such as "voo", "terg" and "bim" - included in the checks to thoroughly test kids reading skills.

The critics say that these words will frustrate those who can already read, and confuse those who can't - or those for whom English is a second language.

The new test - announced last year amid fears poor readers were slipping through the net - checks pupils reading skills at the end of their first year of formal education. It is phonics based and focuses on the sounds of words, rather than recognition of whole words.

Youngsters are tested on their ability to sound out, or decode, a series of words - including made up ones - to assess their reading prowess.

Some of the made-up words include "voo", "terg", "bim", "thazz", "spron", "geck", "blan" and "fape".

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) have voiced their concerns over the test, and are calling on ministers to re-think their plans.

They argue that it will not help to improve children's reading skills or assess whether they are able to understand the words they are reading. The unions also say that parents will not be able to gage how well their youngsters are doing.

Dr Mary Bousted, the ATL general secretary, said: "Phonics should not be the only game in town; it is just one of many equally valid and useful methods of teaching children how to read."

Schools Minister Nick Gibb defended the schem, saying: "There is a weight of international evidence which demonstrates that phonics is the most effective way of teaching early reading."

What do you think? Are your children about to take these reading tests?