St Mary's Catholic Primary School

St Mary's Catholic Primary School

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Phonics Screening Test

What is Phonics?

Phonics is simply a way of teaching children to read intuitively and quickly. By breaking words down to the sounds of letters and letter combinations, these sounds can be combined from left to right to make words. By learning this highly structured technique, children are able to correctly 'decode' new words they hear or see. E.g. 'a' has a distinctive sound that's demonstrated in the word 'apple' and 'sh' is a combination that's demonstrated in the word 'ship'.


Why phonics and not other reading techniques?

Extensive research has shown that phonics is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. The modular or 'building blocks' structure of phonics allows words to be broken down easily and quickly into recognisable sounds. This allows children to confidently read text and tackle new words.


At St Mary's we use the Read Write Inc method of teaching phonics to the children daily in short 10 minute speed sound sessions and then through reading books focussing on the different sounds.


When do children start learning phonics?

Throughout Reception and Year 1, children are taught to read using phonics.


Will children be tested in phonics?

Yes. With the importance of strong literacy skills in later life, the Department for Education (DfE) has deemed it necessary for children to be tested in their ability to use phonics. Enter the Phonics Screening Check. In 2011 the DfE commissioned an independently evaluated pilot in 300 schools across the country. The full findings of the pilot can be downloaded in an enormous 110 page document here. The eventual result is that the National Curriculum now includes its own standardised phonics assessment, an annual Phonics Screening Check.


What is the Phonics Screening Check?

The Phonics Screening Check (otherwise known as the Phonics Screening Test or simply Phonics Test) is a short assessment given to children as part of the National Curriculum. The test seeks to check whether children have learned to decode words using phonics to a required level.

The Phonics Test is compulsory in all state schools (including academies and Free schools) and is given to pupils at the end of Year 1 (and again at the end of Year 2 if they have not reached the expected standard in Year 1).


The 2018 Phonics Screening Check will take place at a point convenient to each school within the week commencing the 11th June 2018.


Who conducts the Phonics Screening Check?

Mrs Horsley will carry out their Phonics Test rather than an externally appointed examiner.


What does the Phonics Screening Check involve?

Your child will sit with the teacher and be asked to read 40 words aloud. Some words will be simple and familiar, some will be more complex and some will be 'non-words' or 'invalid words'. A non-word is a fake word that's used solely to test a child's ability to use phonics and whether they can correctly pronounce the word.


Valid word : Cat. 
Hard valid word : Turnip. 
Non-word : Mish.


The DfE have put together a video that (whilst aimed at teachers) is very helpful to illustrate the Phonics Screening Check.