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What Is The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check?

Since 2012  schools have had to administer the Phonics screening check for all year 1 children to show how well they have developed their phonics skills, a crucial skill when learning to read. You may have heard of the check already or had older children who have taken it in previous years, however if your eldest child is now in year 1 you may have a few questions about it.

This year the check will be taking place in the week beginning Monday 11th June 2018, the second week after half term. If your child is absent from school for all these days, they will not be able to take it at a later date and their score will be recorded as 0. They will have to re take it the following year instead.


What is it?

“The phonics screening check is a short, simple assessment to make sure that all pupils have learned phonic decoding to an appropriate standard by the age of 6. All year 1 pupils in maintained schools, academies and free schools must complete the check.” Department for Education

The check is a list of 40 words – 20 of them are real words and 20 are nonsense words – which your child will be asked to read to a familiar teacher on a one-to-one basis. The first section of words is a selection with three or four letters in them whereas the words in the second section become more complex with five or six letters and some of them polysyllabic which the children may need to break down into parts eg thinking, painter.

The check itself only takes between five and ten minutes for each child and is administered in a calm, familiar area to them.

At Ermine Primary Academy we teach phonics daily through the Read Write Inc programme which builds the phonics skills required to read real and nonsense words. Therefore our pupils are already very at ease when asked to read nonsense words.

We monitor the children’s phonics development throughout the year and regularly assess their progression which we share and update with parents.



What are nonsense words?

The pseudo words (or nonsense words) are collections of letters which follow the phonics rules your child has been taught. They are clearly labelled as nonsense words with a picture of an alien next to them so that the children don’t try to ‘read’ it as a real word by using prediction. The children need to decode and read these using the correct phonics sounds to show that they understand the phonics rules.


How will I know how my child has done?

“The phonics check will help teachers identify the children who need extra help so they can receive the support they need to improve their reading skills. These children will then be able to retake the check in year 2.” Department for Education


The pass score has been 32 out of 40 since the screening check began, however the Department for Education does not announce the pass rate for each year until after the schools have submitted all their pupils’ scores. Parents will be informed of their children’s scores.