Phonics Screening Check

The national phonics screening check is a statutory assessment that was introduced in 2012 to all Year 1 pupils and is a quick and easy check of pupils' phonics knowledge.

Who is it for?

All Year 1 pupils take the phonics screening check during June. Year 2 pupils who didn’t pass the phonics screening check when they were in Year 1 are given another opportunity to take it in Year 2.

What is in the screening check?

The check comprises of a list of 40 words and nonsense words. It assesses phonics skills and knowledge learnt in reception and Year 1. Pupils read one-to-one with the class teacher and they are asked to sound out a word and blend the sounds together. The check is very similar to the tasks the pupils complete during phonics lessons. In total, the check lasts approximately 10 minutes.

What are nonsense words and why are they used?

These are words that are phonetically decodable but are not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb. They are used in the check to assess whether pupils can decode a word using phonic skills and not their memory. The nonsense words are shown to pupils alongside a picture of an alien and they are asked what the alien’s name is – this helps to provide a context for the nonsense word.

How can parents/carers help their child?

There are a number of ways you can support early reading development:

  • Let your child see you enjoy reading yourself. They are influenced by you!

  • Immerse your child in a love of reading

  • Make time for your child to read their book to you

  • With all books, encourage your child to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words and then blend from left to right

More information from the government on the phonics screening check can be found by clicking here.