Year 1 Phonics Check

All pupils will undertake the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year 1.  This section of the Learning Zone tells you all about it and answers some frequently asked questions.

What is the phonics screening check? 
The National phonics screening check is a statutory assessment that was introduced in 2012 to all Year 1 pupils and is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge.


What is in the phonics screening check?
It comprises of a list of 40 words and nonsense (Pseudo) words. It will assess phonics skills and knowledge learnt through Reception and year 1.  Your child will read one-one with a teacher. It will be your child’s current teacher so it is a familiar face. They will be asked to ‘sound out’ a word and blend the sounds together. The check is very similar to tasks the children already complete during phonics lessons and usually only takes 10-15 minutes. The children at Blakehill are familiar with the process as we are constantly reviewing children’s progress in the same way.

What are Nonsense or Pseudo words and why are they included? 
These are words that are phonetically decidable but not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb. These words are included in the check specifically to assess whether your child can decode a word using phonic skills and not their memory. The pseudo words will be shown to your child with a picture of an alien. The children will be asked what the aliens name is by reading the word. This will make the check a bit more fun and provides the children with a context for the nonsense word. Crucially it does not provide any clues, so your child has to be able to decode the word.

How will the results from the screening be used? 
You will be informed of your child’s progress in phonics and how he or she has done in the screening check towards the end of the summer term as part of your child’s end of year report. All of the children are individuals and develop at different stages. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need support with decoding.

What happens if a child struggles with the screening check?
The screening check will identify children who have phonic decoding skills below the level expected for the end of Year 1 and who therefore need extra help. At Blakehill we assess our pupils throughout the year in this way and use an intervention program called Rapid Phonics to support any children who may be finding Phonics difficult. Any child who does not achieve the pass rate at the end of Year 1 will retake the check at the end of Year 2

How can I help my child?
There are a number of things that parents can do to support early reading development:

  • Let your child see you enjoy reading yourself. They are influenced by you and what you do!
  • Make time for your child to read their school book to you every day
  • If your child brings home ‘tricky word’ flash cards, make time to work on them with your child – have fun with them!
  • With all books, encourage your child to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words and then blend from left to right rather than looking at pictures to guess
  • Play games that will develop letter sound knowledge such as I Spy
  • There are also many phonic games for children to access on the computer or Apps if you have a tablet.
Mr Thorne Does Phonics is a great resource including videos and activities.  Mr Thorne also has a number of Apps available.
We hope this information is useful. Remember, we are here to help your child achieve their very best. If you have any questions please ask your child’s class teacher.  We are all happy to help.