Campaign group calls for overhaul of reading in the early years foundation stage

23rd June 2017 at 15:49
Parents and Teachers for Excellence wants EYFS to support the phonics check

A group campaigning for a knowledge-led curriculum has claimed the early years reading assessment is “simply not working”.

In its response to the government’s consultation on primary assessment, the Parents and Teachers for Excellence (PTE) group called for a review of how the early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework covers literacy and reading.

The organisation looked at the proportion of children in reception achieving the EYFS expected standard in reading in every local authority in England, based on teacher assessments.

It then compared this with the proportion reaching the expected standard in the phonics check the following year.

For each of the three sets of data it analysed, PTE’s incoming director Mark Lehain said there was “zero correlation”, which he said suggested the reading element of the EYFS framework was not preparing children well enough to read at school.

In its submission to the DfE consultation, which closed yesterday, it said its data “clearly shows that the reading portion of the test is simply not working” and “must not be evaluating children’s reading ability accurately”.

PTE called for the EYFS to be re-evaluated to support the phonics check, and to rely less on “unreliable” teacher assessments.

'Major issue'

Mr Lehain said: “The EYFS has several stated aims, one of which is ‘to provide a secure foundation for all children for progress through school and life’.

“If it achieved this, one would expect to find that children meeting the expected standard in the literacy and reading goals at the end of Reception would be more likely to reach the required standard in the Year 1 phonics screening a year later.

“The fact that there appears to be zero correlation between the two suggests a major issue in either what the EYFS framework covers or how it is assessed, or both.”

Jan Dubiel, national director of Early Excellence, rejected the criticism of how the EYFS covers reading and literacy.

He told Tes there was no correlation between the EYFS reading assessment and the phonics check because they were “completely different things”.

“One is looking at a very specific skill, and the other is looking at an overview of the concept and understanding of reading.”

He added that a comparison between the EYFS reading outcomes and key stage 1 and key stage 2 results would be fairer.

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