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Phonics Screening Test

What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. Children are taught how to recognise the sounds each individual letter makes and to identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make such as ‘sh’ and ‘oo’. Children are taught to read by breaking down words into segment sounds or ‘phonemes’. They are then taught how to blend these sounds together to read the whole word.

Why Phonics?

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way, starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to more complex sounds, it is the most effective way of teaching children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5‐7. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then progress to read any kind of text fluently, confidently and for enjoyment.

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.

Who is it for?

All Year 1 pupils will take the phonics screening check during the month of June.

What is in the phonics screening check?

It comprises of a list of 40 words. This list is a mixture of real and nonsense 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 a teacher familiar to your child. Your child will read up to 4 words per page and they will probably do the check in 10‐ 15 minutes. 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.

Is it stressful to test such young children?

The assessment will be age appropriate and the adults involved will all be known to the children. The children at Ashleigh Primary School are familiar with the set up as we are regularly reviewing children’s progress in the similar ways. It should be an enjoyable activity for children which takes no more than 15 minutes. There will be a few practise words at the beginning to make sure your child understands the activity.

What are Nonsense or Pseudo words and why are they included?

These are words that are phonetically decodable 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 it. Children generally find nonsense amusing so they will probably enjoy reading these words.

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. 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 help. Schools are expected to provide extra help and children will then be able to re‐take the assessment in Year 2.

How can I help my child?

There are a number of things that parents can do to support early reading development:

  • Watch the Jolly Phonics Correct Pronunciation clip to help you to support your child when revising each letter sound.
  • Use flashcards to embed the recognition of each individual sound
  • Practise sounding out Pseudo word cards
  • Let your child see you enjoy reading yourself.
  • Immerse your child in a love of reading
  • Make time for your child to read their school book to you
  • 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.

There are many phonic games for children to access on the computer.

We hope this information is useful. Remember, we are here to help your child achieve their very best. If you have any questions, please contact your child’s teacher. We are happy to help.