The phonics screening check is taken individually by all children in Year 1 in England. It is designed to give teachers and parents information on how your child is progressing in phonics.
There are two sections in the 40-word check and it assesses phonics skills and knowledge learned 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.
Section 1 words contain phase 2 - 3 graphemes
Section 2 words contain phase 3-5 graphemes
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.
There will be a few practice words first to make sure your child understands the activity.
It checks that your child can:
These are words that are phonically decodable but are not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb. Alien words are included in the check specifically to assess whether your child can decode a word using phonics skills and not their memory.
The alien 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 check is not about passing or failing but checking appropriate progress is being made. If children do not reach the required standard, then the teacher will be in touch to discuss plans and offer additional, tailored support to ensure that your child can catch up.
The pass mark is relased after the children have taken the screening check. You will receive a letter in your child's end of year report to let you know their score.
Children progress at different speeds so not reaching the threshold score does not necessarily mean there is a serious problem. Your child will re-sit the check the following summer term in year 2.