Year 1 (Phonics Screening)

The Phonics Screening Check is designed to be administered at the end of year 1 to show how well the children can use the phonics skills they have learned, and to identify children who need extra phonics help. The DfE defines the checks as “short, light-touch assessments” that take about a maximum of 10 minutes to complete.

The checks consist of 40 words and non-words that the children will be asked to read one-to-one with a teacher. Non-words (also known as nonsense words or pseudo words) are a collection of letters that will follow phonics rules the children have been taught, but don’t mean anything – they will need to read these with the correct sounds to show that they understand the phonics rules behind them.

The 40 words and non-words are divided into two sections – one with simple word structures and one with more complex word structures. The teacher administering the check with the children will give them a few practice words to read first – including some non-words – so they understand more about what they have to do. Each of the non-words is presented with a picture of a monster / alien, as if the word were their name so your child doesn’t think the word is a mistake because it doesn’t make sense.

These assessments are administered within a range of dates set by the DfE, usually in the June of each year.

All children are scored against a national standard, and the result will be whether or not they fall below or meet/exceed the standard.

If a child’s score falls below the standard, they will be given extra phonics help and will re-take the Phonics screening check in Year 2.