London: A UK government initiative to test school literacy levels will see more than 500,000 six-year-olds asked to read words such as jound, terg, fape and snemp.

During the summer term, teachers will sit down individually with every Year 1 child and ask them to read the pseudo-words as a way of gauging reading levels.

Officials preparing this year's test are having to ensure that none of the non-words is offensive in other languages. The government is pushing ahead with using the pseudo-words in the tests despite the results of a public consultation in which two-thirds of people said they should not be included.

Each child will have to read a total of 40 words; 20 real ones such as week, chill, grit and start as well as 20 non-words such as spron, stroft and ulf.

The idea is that the test will establish how well schools are teaching phonics, a system in which children learn the sounds that groups of letters make rather than just remembering what different words look like.

Professor Dominic Wyse of the Institute of Education said: "Clearly, non-words don't have any meaning.

"Understanding meaning is the essence of reading so we must ask if this test really assesses reading."