NAHT has ensured that members’ concerns and frustrations regarding the additional phonics test for Year 2 children this term have been raised with the government. We have absolutely opposed this additional test for Year 2 right from the outset in April; unfortunately, the government has chosen to ignore the sector in making its decision.
Soon after lockdown, when primary assessments were cancelled, we were engaged with STA regarding tests in 2020/21 and particularly the phonics test. There was a statutory consultation in April, and you can read our response below; we set out a very clear position that we did not support the whole Year 2 cohort having to take the phonics check.
There was a second statutory consultation in July, and the letter NAHT sent in response to that is also found below. We opposed STA's proposals and offered an alternative solution based on teacher assessment.
During that period, NAHT was involved in numerous meetings with DfE and STA, where our position re phonics for Year 2 was reiterated.
However, although our stance on the phonics test for Year 2 was made clear to ministers and our proposed approach was a sensible compromise, Ministers kept to their initial proposals.
We continue to raise members concerns about the administration of the phonics check to the whole of year 2. We have been clear that in the current context of the pandemic and the immense pressure schools are under, it is an additional and unnecessary burden, and the logistical challenges of releasing a teacher and finding a space to do the assessment with all of the Year 2 children cannot be underestimated.
We are also having detailed conversations with our branches and individual members about this issue and we have been listening carefully to the feedback from them. As a result, the union is currently assessing the legal status of these tests and the possible options available to both the union as a whole and to individual members.
First published 19 November 2020