Year 1 Phonic Screening Check
The Year 1 Phonic Screening Check was introduced across England in 2012. The test is administered in the second half of the summer term and its purpose is to check children are meeting expected requirements in their phonics knowledge and decoding skills.
The check consists of a short test that is between 5-10 minutes in duration. It is carried out by a teacher who will assess children individually – the check is not carried out in a group environment. The check involves reading/decoding and children give their responses verbally, no written responses are required.
The check is made up of 40 words, divided into two sections of 20 words. Each section will contain a mixture of real words and nonsense words (which can also be referred to as pseudo-words). The children will understand the nonsense words aren’t part of vocabulary – these words have an image of a monster next to them and children are asked to read the word in order to tell the teacher what the monster’s name is. The image will obviously not give away any clues and not assist with the decoding and there are no images for the real words.
Independent schools choose whether they want to participate in the Phonic Screening Check, in saying this, independent schools will of course have their own assessing and tracking schedule for phonics and reading. Best practice would mean all schools – whether state or independent – use continuous assessment and keep record of their students’ progress for all learning areas! The Phonic Screening Check is an extra assessment to ensure no child is slipping through the cracks at what is such a crucial age in reading development.
If a child doesn’t pass the screening check they will receive extra support at school and will have the opportunity to participate in the check again the following year, again in the summer term.
Schools will inform parents of their child’s results – how this is done is up to the school; it could be in the form of a letter, meeting or even included in end of year school reports. Results are not published in league tables (as they are with SATs) but will be shared with Local Authorities who can then allocate support funding accordingly.
So how can you best support your child in the lead up to this check? Keep up the home-reading and phonics practice as set out by your child’s school. Hopefully your child’s school has clearly communicated which phonics program they use and explained how parents should implement any material that is sent home.
It is important to not do anything out of the ordinary in the lead up to the check that will confuse or worry your child. Children are used to reading one to one to their teachers and the check will probably be explained to them in a low key way: as something their teachers need to do to check how they are doing and to let teachers know what they still need help with. It will be explained to children in this way with little notice as it isn’t something children should worry about – it is tracking and as mentioned before, it should be occurring all year round.
If you feel your child is having trouble with their phonics and decoding strategies or want some support and guidance on how you can best support your child with their phonics learning (it can be tricky as it is not how we were taught to read at school!), Education Boutique offer a range of services that can support you and your child. When working with young children we make sure sessions are fun, engaging and hands-on.
Brooke McClure – Lead Resource Teacher at Education Boutique, February 2020