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National praise for Cambridgeshire primary school

29 January 2024

A Cambridge primary school has been praised by the Government for its phonics work with children.

King’s Hedges Primary School was in the top 5 per cent of all schools in the 2023 Phonics Screening Check.

The phonics screening check is taken individually by all children in Year 1. It is designed to give teachers and parents information on how a child is progressing in phonics.

It is a short and simple assessment of phonic decoding, consisting of a list of 40 words, some real words and some non-words, which Year 1 children read to a teacher.

Non-words (or made-up words) are included because they will be new to all children, so there won’t be a bias to those with a good vocabulary knowledge or visual memory of words. Children who can read non-words should have the skills to decode almost any unfamiliar word.

At Kings Hedges Primary, 95 per cent of Year 1 pupils met the expected standard in the check in 2023.

In a letter to headteacher Sarah Merritt, Schools Minister Damian Hinds said: “Your particular success in teaching phonics and early reading so effectively means your pupils are developing a firm foundation, from which they can become increasingly fluent and develop a lifelong love of reading.

“I would like to thank you for your commitment and success in this vital area of a child’s early education and congratulate you, your staff and pupils again on all you have achieved.”

Sarah Merritt said: “We were delighted to receive this letter from the Minister. We are always proud of the education we offer our children. The staff work hard, the children work hard and parents support the school well to ensure our high standards are maintained. This success is testament to that hard work and should be celebrated.”

Cllr Bryony Goodliffe, Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee added: “I am delighted that the Minister took the time to write to the school. His praise is justified and I share it – Kings Hedges has done a terrific job with its phonics work and is achieving impressive outcomes for the children. Congratulations to everyone concerned.”