The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check is a short phonics activity designed to show how well your child can use the phonics skills they’ve learned in Reception and Year 1.
It is also a way to identify children who may need extra phonics help when entering Year 2. Schools will administer the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check the week beginning 10 June 2019 and all students in Year 1 in England must take the Screening Check. It will be administered by a teacher, one to one, in a quiet room with minimal distractions and should take no more than 10 minutes.
The phonics Screening Check consists of 40 words and non-words; (nonsense words/pseudo words). Some parents raise issue with their child being asked to read non-words but the theory behind these words is that they are a collection of letters that will follow the phonics rules the child has been taught. By reading these non-words the child is able to demonstrate that they understand the phonics rules behind them.
The 40 words and non-words are divided into two sections:
- Simple word structures of three or four letters
- More complex word structures of five or six letters.
The teacher administering the check will first give the child a few practice words to read first so that they understand more about what they have to do.
Each of the non-words is presented with a picture of a monster / alien. This is to encourage the child to say the non-word no matter how silly it sounds and to discourage them from changing the non-word to a real word thinking they’ve made a mistake because it doesn’t make sense!
Each child will be scored against a national standard and the main result will be whether or not they fall below, within or above this standard.
In 2013 – 2018 the “pass threshold” was 32. This means children had to read at least 32 words out of 40 correctly in order to ‘pass’. The threshold mark is communicated to schools at the end of June, after the test has been taken, so that teachers can mark the Check, meaning your school won’t know what that threshold is until after the Check.
You will be told how your child did, but schools’ results will not be published. If your child’s score falls below the standard, they will be given extra phonics help and can re-take the Phonics Screening Check in Year 2.
There are many factors to take into consideration including the chronological birthdate of the children; a summer born child may be almost a year younger than a September born child, yet all children take the same test.
If your child falls below the standard, rest assured that this will mean they will receive further phonics support during their next school year. This is a good thing and can help the child gain confidence with their reading.
You can help your child prepare for their Phonics Screening Check by practicing the phonics they’ve learned in Reception and Year 1. Read new books and stories with them where they will be introduced to new words that they’ll have to sound out, and review the phonics rules.
The best way to encourage confidence with the non-words is to practice lots of non-words together at home. Let your child hear adults reading non words to enable them to eliminate the fear of saying non-words incorrectly.
Many very confident readers will initially feel uncomfortable with these non-words. They feel they must be saying the word wrong so it’s important to break down these barriers. One way is to read non-words in silly voices, maybe even adding an alien/monster face or action to make it fun and encourage your child to feel relaxed about saying non-words.
So with the Year 1 Phonics Screening Test just around the corner, we’re making our resident early years, education specialist available to answer all your questions.