Disadvantaged white boys lag behind peers in UK phonics test

The Guardian is reporting that white boys from disadvantaged family backgrounds are significantly underachieving even at the earliest stage of their education, results of this year’s phonics screening check for six-year-olds have revealed.

When results are broken down by ethnic group, gender and free school meal (FSM) eligibility, white boys on FSM are the lowest attaining group, with only six out of 10 pupils (62%) meeting the required standard.

Overall more than four in five pupils (82%) met the expected standard in the phonics screening check this year, a one percentage point increase on 2017 results. Chinese girls (not eligible for FSM) were the highest performing group.

Analysis of the phonics results also revealed that fewer than half of pupils (44%) with special educational needs (SEN) reached the pass mark, compared with 89% of pupils with no identified SEN.

In reading, 75% reached the expected standard down from 76% last year, while in maths, 76% of children reached the required mark, compared to 75% in 2017.

The test remains controversial, however, among some teachers and parents. A new survey by researchers at Newman University and Leeds Beckett University found that 85% of heads believe the test should not be compulsory, while 65% of teachers want it scrapped.

Wendy Scott, of the primary assessment campaign group More Than A Score, said: “Heads, teachers and parents agree: the phonics check is a waste of extremely valuable teaching time. Rather than learning to love reading, five and six-year-olds are spending months being drilled in nonsense words just so they can be tested.”

Read more Disadvantaged white boys lag behind peers in UK phonics test

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