Phonics Screening Check

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 contributions of letters make such as ‘sh’ and ‘oo’.

Children are taught to read by breaking down words into separate sounds or ‘phonemes’. They are then taught how to blend these sounds together to read the whole word.

At Pentland Primary School we teach phonics, following the Ruth Miskin, Read Write Inc Programme.


Phonics Screening Check

The phonics screening check will check that your child can:

  • Sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words.
  • Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
  • Read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as nonsense or alien (pseudo) words.

There will be two sections in this 40-word check and it will assess phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1. Your child will read up to four words per page for a familiar teacher and they will probably do the check in one sitting of about 5-10 minutes.

Who has to take it?

The phonics screening check will be taken individually by all children in Year 1 in England from June 2012. It is designed to give teachers and parents information on how your child is progressing in phonics. It will help to identify whether your child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early reading skill.

Any children in Year 2 who have not yet passed the phonics screening check will also have the chance to re-take the test.


Alien or nonsense words

These  are  words  that  are  phonetically  decodable  but  not  actual words with an associated meaning e.g. vorp, larg.

These words are included in the check specifically to assess whether you  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.



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.


How can I help?

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!
  • 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