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Orchard Primary

& Pre-School

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School Logo

Orchard Primary & Pre-School

"Small enough to care, Big enough to inspire"

Phonics / Phonics Screening Check

What do we mean by Phonics?

Phonics is one of a range of tools that children use to learn to read and write. In order to read and write, children need to:


  • Learn to read the sounds
  • Learn to form their letters
  • Learn to blend sounds together for reading
  • Learn to identify the sounds in words for writing
  • Learn to read and spell the tricky high frequency words


As well as learning the sounds made by individual letters, your child learns how letters combine to make new sounds such as sh and oi (referred to as “special friends”).

To understand more about phonics please explore the link below

What is the phonics screening check?

The phonics screening check is a short statutory assessment taken by all Year 1 pupils in the country.  The check forms part of the assessment, made by the class teacher, to ensure the children are making sufficient progress in the phonics skills to read words and are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and for learning.


Who is it for?

The screening check is for all Year 1 pupils; Year 2 children who did not previously meet the standard of the check while they were in Year 1 will also take part again.


Is it compulsory?

Yes, it is a statutory requirement for all schools to carry out the screening check.

Do children with special educational needs have to take the screening check?

There is a process in place for reviewing children with special educational needs, so if your child’s teacher thinks there are very special reasons related to your child and their needs that make them think the phonics screening check may not be appropriate, they will decide on appropriate action and discuss this with you.

When does it happen?
The phonics check happens in June 2023


Who carries out the screening check?

Mrs Bitcon will carry out the check. Administering the phonics check requires a teacher’s personal judgement and it is important that the children are with a familiar adult.


How long does the check take?

Every child is different, but most take between 2 and 5 minutes to complete the assessment.

How is the check structured?

Your child will sit with Mrs Bitcon who they know well and be asked to read 40 words aloud. Some of these words will be familiar to your child and some will be ‘nonsense words’ (these are also referred to as “alien words”). All the words will be words that can be read by ‘sounding out’.


The ‘nonsense words’ are included as these will not be familiar to any of the children and the children therefore have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess their ability to decode. Children who can read nonsense words should have the skills to decode almost any unfamiliar word.

Does it put the children under unnecessary pressure?

The assessment is age-appropriate and completed with an adult who is familiar to the child. Reading one-to-one with a teacher is a familiar activity for our children; this should be an enjoyable activity for children and only takes a few minutes. All the children are rewarded with stickers once they have completed the screening, regardless of their score.

How will the results be used?

The results will not be published but parents will be informed of their individual child’s score and this year’s pass mark.


If your child found the test tricky, we will let you know what support we have put in place to help them improve and what you can do at home to help them as well.  Children who have not met the standard will retake the check when they are in Year 2.

How can I help my child?

In school we are continually checking the children’s phonic development within our approach to the assessment of reading. This screening check forms a part of our overall assessment procedure.


However, there are a number of things that parents can do to support early ready skill development:

  • Let your child see you enjoying reading yourself – they are influenced by you and what you value!
  • Immerse your child in a love of reading – share books and magazines with your child, take them to the library to choose books, read to them regularly, point out texts around you, eg in the street etc.
  • Make time for your child to read school books to you regularly – encourage them by pointing to the words and asking them about the story they are reading.

Information for Parents - Phonics Screening Check