Boys in Suffolk less likely to pass year 1 reading test than girls, figures reveal
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Boys in Suffolk are less likely to pass their first year phonics reading tests than girls, it has been revealed.
According to figures from the Department for Education, in 2018 78% of boys passed the tests compared to 84% of girls.
The phonics tests, which pupils take when they are five and six, see children sounding a series of specially created words to show they can read the letters rather than just spot words.
The new figures also reveal the county is slightly below the national average pass rate at 81% - compared to 82% nationally.
Kate Hodgetts, headteacher of St Helens Primary School in Ipswich, said although the gap between girls and boys was closer at her school, at just 3%, she thinks phonics works best when used alongside other teaching methods.
“The only downside is that it is taught so rigidly within early years that when they move on their spelling may suffer,” she said.
“They tend to spell phonetically.
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“But we move them onto a supporting programme and in-depth reading.
“For me you have to give them the two.
“Phonics is good when used as one of many techniques.
“A good school will get to know their children and what is right for their youngsters.”
Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary of the National Education Union said the gap could be down to the way boys interact.
She said: “The answer may be in the quality of boys’ social interaction in early childhood, contrasted with girls. “Social interaction develops language skills, which in turn contribute to learning.”
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “Phonics is understanding the sounds that letters and groups of letters make.
“For the vast majority of children, learning phonics makes learning to read easier and they grasp it more quickly.
“A greater proportion of girls than boys have met the phonics standard in the check this year and this has been the case both in Suffolk and Nationally since the check was introduced in 2012.
“There is a wide range of educational research into how different groups of children learn best. There are many theories but no single reason why girls and boys perform differently at different stages in their life.”