At Belmont we ensure parents are kept well informed of their child’s progress in all aspects of reading including phonic development. The national phonics screening check was introduced in 2012 to all Year 1 pupils. It is meant to show how well your child can use the phonics skills they’ve learned up to the end of Year 1 and to identify pupils who need extra phonics help. The checks are “short, light-touch assessments” that take about four to nine minutes to complete.
How is the check structured?
The checks consist of 40 words and non-words that your child will be asked to read one-on-one with a teacher. Non-words (or nonsense words, or pseudo words) are a collection of letters that will follow phonics rules your child has been taught, but don’t mean anything – your child will need to read these with the correct sounds to show that they understand the phonics rules behind them.
The 40 words and non-words are divided into two sections – one with simple word structures of three or four letters, and one with more complex word structures of five or six letters. The teacher administering the check with your child will give them a few practice words to read first – including some non-words – so they understand more about what they have to do. Each of the non-words is presented with a picture of a monster/alien, as if the word were their name (and so your child doesn't think the word is a mistake because it doesn't make sense!).
Is it stressful to test such young children?
The assessment will be age-appropriate, with children sitting with their teacher and reading one-to-one. It should be an enjoyable activity for children which takes no more than a few minutes.
Does a child have to take the test?
Yes, all pupils in Year 1 are required to take the test.
Why are non-words included in the screening check?
Non-words are an established assessment method and are included because they will be new to all pupils, so there won’t be a bias to those with a good vocabulary knowledge or visual memory of words. Pupils who can read non-words should have the skills to decode almost any unfamiliar word.
How long does the check take?
Every child is different but in most cases the check should take less than 10 minutes per child.
When will parents know the results?
You will be informed of your child's result at the end of the summer term.
What happens if a child struggles with the screening check?
The screening check will identify those who have phonic decoding skills below the level expected for the end of Year 1. Extra help will be provided by the school and your child will then be able to re-take the assessment in Year 2.
How can I help my child?
Your child's phonic development is regularly checked and the statutory screening forms part of our overall assessment procedure. However, there are a number of things that parents can do to support early reading skill development.
- Let your child see you enjoying reading yourself – they are influenced by you and what you value!
- Share books and magazines with your child, take them to the library to choose books, read to them regularly, point out texts around you e.g. in the street etc.
- Make time for your child to read school books to you regularly – encourage them by pointing to the words and ask them about the story they are reading.
- Help your child to practise reading key words and sounds when these are sent home.
- Go over the phonics they’ve learned in Reception and Year 1.
- Communicate with your child’s teacher through their Home/School reading diary.