Phonics Screening Check
What is the Phonics Screening Check?
The phonics screening check is taken individually by all children in Year 1 in England (usually in June). It is designed to give teachers and parents’ information on how your child is progressing in phonics. It will help to identify whether your child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early reading skill.
There are two sections in this 40-word check which assesses phonics skills and knowledge learnt through Reception and Year 1. Your child will read up to four words per page for their teacher and they will probably do the check in one sitting of about 5-10 minutes. It is a school-based check to make sure that your child receives any additional support promptly, should they need it. It is not a stressful situation as the teacher will be well-equipped to listen and understand your child’s level of skills.
It checks that your child can:
- sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words
- read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill
- read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as pseudo words
These are words that are phonically decodable but are not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb. Pseudo words are included in the check specifically to assess whether your child can decode a word using phonics skills and not their memory.
The pseudo words will be shown to your child with a picture of a monster and they will be asked to tell their teacher what sort of monster it is by reading the word. This not only makes the check a bit more fun, but provides the children with a context for the nonsense word which is independent from any existing vocabulary they may have. Crucially, it does not provide any clues, so your child just has to be able to decode it. Children generally find nonsense amusing so they will probably enjoy reading these words.
The school will report your child’s results to you by the end of the summer term as well as to the local authority.
If your child does not pass the check in Year 1, they will resit it in Year 2.
What should I do if my child is struggling to decode a word?
Say each sound in the word from left to right.
Blend the sounds by pointing to each letter, i.e. /b/ in bat, or letter group, i.e. /igh/ in sigh, as you say the sound, then run your finger under the whole word as you say it.
Talk about the meaning if your child does not understand the word they have read.
Work at your child’s pace.
Always be positive and give lots of praise and encouragement.