Phonics test must not be used in isolation

7th October 2011 at 01:00

I found your article "Phonics test turns out to be not so monstrous after all" (23 September) interesting reading.

Any form of mandatory practice designed to identify those with learning difficulties at a young age is undeniably a step in the right direction. However, I fear the Department for Education is placing too much emphasis on its benefits.

It is important to remember that a phonics test alone, taken at this young age, will not identify all cases of those with reading or learning difficulties. The greatest danger is that teachers rely on this test as the sole means of identifying learning difficulties and special educational needs.

Many five and six-year-olds will be able to pass this test despite having learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, because an intelligent child will be able to "bluff" through this level of phonic complexity.

Therefore, this test must be just one step throughout primary education in order to identify those with learning difficulties as soon as they begin to fall behind.

Dr E Neville Brown, Principal and founder, Maple Hayes Dyslexia School and Research Centre, Lichfield, Staffordshire.

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