The Conservatives are to replace the Key Stage One test with a new simple test that will establish whether six and seven year-olds have mastered the skill of "decoding" how words are constructed. Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, will be empowered to police the teaching of reading by phonics. There will also be new powers for headteachers to exclude unruly children.
A Tory source told The Observer: "’We want every child who can to be reading by the age of six. You are talking over 90 per cent of children. Obviously this will not be possible for children with acute special needs. We would scrap the key stage one test which is quite controversial. It is complex. We want to concentrate on the absolute foundation stone, which is an ability to read."
The plans have been attacked by Chris Davis of the National Primary Headteachers’ Association: "The target is too early. One of the worst things you can do with a very young child is give them the impression that they can’t do something. That can put them off for a very long time, if not for ever." Mr Davis points to Scandinavian experience where children start to learn later but – allegtedly – soon overtake the reading ability of British children.
The above quotation is taken from an article that Michael Gove has written for The Sunday Times.
6pm: Fraser Nelson worries about this initiative: "The plan for pioneer / direct grant / Swedish/ voucher / whateveryouwanttocallthem schools empowers and trusts teachers. Today’s initiative seeks to do their job for them. Cameron has no expertise whatsoever in primary education, why should he be prescribing synthetic phonics or anything else to these teachers?"