Primary teachers were left surprised and not a little bit shocked by new official reading assessment guidance that includes a real example of a six- or seven-year-old reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
The guidance issued by the Standards and Testing Agency, which administers the Sats tests and assessments, states that the child, “Pupil H”, would be assessed as working at greater depth within the expected standard because she could read words such as “international magical cooperation” without any hesitation, and used phonics and morphology to read unfamiliar words such as “consignment” and “Transylvanian”.
But teachers – especially on social media – were concerned that not only did the standard seem “totally unrealistic”, but also the content of the book, which was released as a 12A certificate film, was inappropriate for young children.
One teacher, Amanda Swift Fletcher, put it like this: “Is this what our education system has become? Neither of my children accessed HP until much older. They are both doing extremely well in life! My heart breaks. Let children enjoy books that are relevant to their age. This is a child genius not GD. Saddened by this today.”
And high-profile head and blogger Simon Smith wrote for Tes: “Personally, I don’t think The Goblet of Fire is a suitable text for six- or seven-year-olds. I’m saying that as a parent and also as a headteacher. If my Year 2 teacher came to me and suggested using the book, then I would categorically say ‘no’.”
The Department for Education defended its position.
A spokesman said: “We do not issue a set list of books that children have to read. We provide teachers with examples from reading texts – which are drawn from popular books that many young people at this age are known to be reading – to support teachers in making judgements as to the level and depth of understanding that children should be demonstrating at this stage in their education. These examples were developed in collaboration with a number of nationally recognised experts in English reading.”