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Michael Gove is saying that children who are able to read should be reading by age six and as long as he does not do a (Tony) Blair and make targets the be all and end all here, that seems a sensible way forward.
As long as the initiative is in the hands of the professionals (i.e. not left wing NUTcases nor politicians), then we should see a great improvement in the nation's literacy.

Chris Davies is wrong to say that six is too young for children to be reading! I was very fortunate because my mother taught me to read at home before I went to school - at the age of 3! As a result I have grown up very happily as a Bookworm! I would like to see many more children do the same.

7/10 - need to show more attention to detail, Michael. Please resubmit your homework.

The replacement of key stage 1 test will be welcomed in the teaching establishment, although it has proved a useful spur to improvements.

However to replace it with a reading test one year earlier at the end of year 1 will be heavily resented.

Also as a parent of a large family, I have seen how all my children - academically well above average - have developed at different speeds. One daughter would have struggled in this test at age 6 I'm sure, but during year 2 something clicked into place and she is storming ahead.

This is too blunt an instrument. Think again, Michael.

Sally Roberts, although I didn't start school until the age of five, I was able to start school being able to read and do basic maths. This was because my mother did her best to teach me at home. I was never in a nursery or creche. A pre-school child is more likely to develop basic learning skills in a more focused environment at home with its mother rather than in the communal atmosphere of a nursery. While I am opposed to young children being weighed under with the pressure of government targets, I do think reading and basic maths are areas that can realistically be applied and should be encouraged.

I was reading before school, taught by my scientist father. However, he gave up on me on the maths side, as I didnt pick it up immediately - and I never have! You can get by without math, what are calculators for!! But reading is a must.

tory parent - the key stage 1 test happens at the end of year 1 (confusingly this is actually the second year of education for most children, as they also have a reception year).

the plan is to replace the current complex key stage 1 test with a more simple reading test - there is nothing about doing this new test a year earlier.

Annabel - all children have innate understanding of maths as long as it's in real terms and not abstract, especially money v objects of desire.

Tested this in Toys R Us one Xmas when my three year old nephew had £60 in cash from relatives to spend - he went through whole shop and changed toys in and out of basket until final figure was £59.97p - basically on basis of comparing against one Transformer (£29.99) which he immediately understood was half of available resource. So he worked through 2 of x = 1 Transformer, three of y = 1 Transformer, a+b+x = I Transformer. He in fact showed he could read when it mattered as he soon recognised that symbols for £9.99 represented one third of a transformer, £14.99 half, £4.99 one sixth, £2.99 one tenth and so on. After a few answers from me to start with he did it all himself - greed is a great educator!

It was like watching thousands of years of human evolution develop in one mind in half an hour - amazing.

And no he didn't turn into a mathematical genius, just average at maths - he's at university doing a course on adventure sports and business administration - (I'm jealous; four years of rafting, climbing, walking, kayaking, guiding, windsurfing, bunji jumping etc. to instructor level though of course risk management & business does need maths).

From what I've seen, phonics are a very effective teaching method. However, I broadly agree with Tory Parent -- reading testing 6 year old is not the right way to measure that schools are properly implementing policy.

"all children have innate understanding of maths as long as it's in real terms and not abstract"

Ted, yes, I agree. I think thats also true of most people. Many children and young adults start to struggle in maths when they have to study complex numbers, polynominal division, induction and the like. Yet these very same people have no problem at all dealing with 'Shop-till maths'. The introduction of algebra kills most people's interest in maths. I certainly agree that very young children have an innate sense of number and value. Just give Johnny three sweets and give Jane six sweets and see how quickly little Johnny will protest that Jane has got twice as many sweets as him!

Good stuff from Michael. I wish we'd hear Andrew Lansley show a similar willingness to take on the health establishment.

tory source at 12:28,

I'm afraid you betray your ignorance of the system. I am a Chairman of Governors at a primary school.

The key stage 1 test takes place towards the end of Year 2 - i.e. after 3 years for schools with reception age intake.

Michael Gove's proposal, as it is being reported, will bring an albeit very different test forward one year. Perhaps you could tell us whether you think this is a good idea bearing in mind that my academically above average daughter could not read to the expected standard at 6 years of age?

We must look at the methods used in teaching toddlers to read, which way do they respond best? When I learnt Russian I had to learn to read again from scratch and I noticed that as hard as I tried to read my way through words phonetically I kept seeing words on blocks. That is the whole word as one. I found that I was learning to recognize the word as a whole quicker than if I were to trawl through the word phonetically. I am not a teacher so I am not familiar with the way young children begin learn to read in school, could anyone explain, in layman's terms, how it is done? How does it differ from teaching methods used in previous decades?

Tory parent - I was lucky to experience British Imperial primary education, which was always better in terms of learning to read and write than the UK one.

We didn't get out of Kindergarten unless we had basic reading skills (5/6 year olds) - so teachers made sure we did. They managed without government targets because they knew that standard one teachers wouldn't accept pupils who were behind on reading - so without stigmatising poorer readers, they would spend more time with them, try different methods, talk to the parents. Good teachers who cared and didn't need outside examiners, school inspections, special interventions. What happened to them?

Those of us lucky enough to have been taught to read and write the "old" way were taught by teachers who actually understood what reading and writing meant. It included the teaching of grammar, punctuation, the parts of speech and knowing what similes, antonyms, homonyms and synonyms were. Michael Gove is spot on. Early numeracy and literacy are the building blocks of education. What chance do history, mathematics and science have as subjects unless the pupils are comfortable with written texts and numbers? If the job is done properly in primary schools, serious education can begin. The trouble will be of course, some of those secondary teachers could be less literate!

Michael Gove is absolutely right that children who are struggling to read should be identified at an early stage and help offered to those who are falling behind. It should be 'formative' and not 'summative' assessment, to regress into educational jargon. He is spot on about what happens to children who fail to get the basics right at an early stage.
I would suggest he re-reads the chapter in Mrs T's memoirs about the national curriculum for a summary of how a good, simple idea becomes bureaucratised when it gets sucked into the goverment sausage machine. Some humility needs to be shown by any politician in this field. The educational establishment is a conservative, process-driven beast.

Ted, the experience you relate about your nephew's Christmas shopping:

Tested this in Toys R Us one Xmas when my three year old nephew had £60 in cash from relatives to spend

is wonderful. You should be a maths teacher!

Shop-till maths...nice term. Knocks us shop assistants down a peg or too, relying on a till.

What a bloody stupid idea. This is the best they can do? The idea is to have children reading properly when they are ready. Development at that age varies massively - and many children are not ready to read age six. The way to see which systems works is to look at adult literacy rates in similar countries, and see when and how they learn to read. What do we find? The Scandanavian model isn't "allegtedly" better, it really is. Look at the International Adult Literacy Survey.

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