The Year One Phonics Screening Check is taken by all children in Year 1 in England. It is usually taken in June and this year will take place during the week beginning Monday 8th June. The Phonics Screening Check shows teachers how well children are progressing in phonics and it identifies any pupils who may need additional support in phonics so that they stay on track to become fluent readers.
Whilst it is compulsory for all Year 1 pupils to take the check it is not a formal test and takes place in a relaxed environment with the class teacher and one child at a time. There are a few practice words to begin with, to make sure children understand the task and, as it is administered on a 1:1 basis, the teacher will understand each child’s individual needs and phonics skill level.
The check takes around 10 minutes to complete, but there is no formal time limit, so children can take as long or as little time as they require. The check is made up of 40 words and non-words that children will read one at a time. The 40 words and non-words are split into two sections – one section contains simple words made up of 3 or 4 letters and the other section contains more complex words made up of 5-8 letters.
Non-words, or nonsense words, are a group of letters put together that will follow phonics rules each child has been taught. Children will be presented with these words alongside a picture of an alien so that the children think the non-word is the alien’s name. Some examples of words from the 2019 Phonics Screening Check are as follows:
Simple words: shop, yell
Complex words: blossom, thankful
Non-words: sut, meck
Children are scored against a national standard and the results are whether children fall within, above or below the standard. The pass mark is not published to schools until after the test at the end of June, when all schools nationwide have administered the Phonics Screening Check. In 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 the pass mark was 32 so in order to pass the check children had to read at least 32 words correctly out of 40. Parents will be notified about how well their child did but the results for each school are not published.
If a child does not pass the Phonics Screening Check they will be given extra phonics support in school and they will re-take the check again at the end of Year 2.
For more information regarding The Year One Phonics Screening Check and to view previous years test materials visit: