Why Do We Do The Phonics Screening Check?

Written by Dan

Last updated

Have you ever wondered why we conduct the Phonics Screening Check? It seems like just another task on a long to-do list, right? But it’s so much more than that.

The Phonics Screening Check is an essential tool in our educational system, designed with the utmost care and professionalism, and its importance cannot be overstated.

Let’s break it down together, shall we? The Phonics Screening Check is a light shining on your child’s phonics abilities, illuminating their strengths and areas for improvement.

It’s not just about ticking boxes or meeting benchmarks—it’s about understanding each child’s unique learning journey and guiding them towards success.

This article will delve into the reasons behind the Phonics Screening Check. We’ll explore its origins, purpose, and impact on our approach to teaching phonics.

By the end of this piece, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of why we do what we do. So, are you ready to embark on this enlightening journey with us?

phonics screening check

The Origins of the Phonics Screening Check

Have you ever wondered where the concept of the Phonics Screening Check originated? Let’s take a brief journey back in time.

The Department for Education introduced the Phonics Screening Check in England in 2012. This was part of a broader initiative to improve literacy levels among children. After all, reading is the foundation of learning.

The development of this check was based on extensive research and studies on phonics and its impact on children’s reading ability. By equipping children with phonics knowledge from an early age, they’re better prepared to decode words, paving the way for successful reading and comprehension.


Intentions and Goals during Its Creation

Now, let’s explore the intentions behind creating the Phonics Screening Check. What were the architects of this check aiming to achieve?

Firstly, the goal was to measure how well children can use the phonics skills they’ve learned up to the end of Year 1, and to identify students who need extra phonics help.

The check focuses on decoding words using a phonetic approach, a crucial reading element.

Secondly, the check aimed to provide consistent, objective, and national data on phonics attainment. This would help schools, parents, and policymakers understand how well this fundamental aspect of literacy is being taught.

It’s about ensuring every child gets the support they need right when needed.

Understanding the Phonics Screening Check

Are you curious about how the Phonics Screening Check unfolds? Let’s unravel the mystery together.

The check is a short, light-touch assessment to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard. It comprises 40 words and non-words that your child will be asked to read one-on-one with a teacher.

The words are divided between actual words and pseudo-words, or ‘alien’ words as they’re often called. These ‘alien’ words are included to measure your child’s ability to decode a word using phonics.

Because they are new words, children can’t rely on their existing vocabulary; instead, they must use their phonics skills. Isn’t it fascinating how this process is designed to gauge your child’s phonics abilities truly?

The Role of Educators in the Process

Now, let’s talk about our unsung heroes: the educators. What role do they play in the Phonics Screening Check? Teachers are instrumental in this process.

They conduct the check in a familiar environment, ensuring your child feels comfortable and relaxed.

Their role extends beyond conducting the check: they prepare children for the test, support them throughout, and offer additional help to those who need it after the check. It’s a holistic approach.

How Results are Interpreted and Utilized

And what happens once the check is complete? The results of the Phonics Screening Check are used to identify students who require extra help with phonics.

The check is not about passing or failing but identifying needs and supporting growth. If a child struggles with the check, they’ll receive extra phonics support from their school.

Additionally, these results give teachers valuable insight into their phonics instruction, helping them refine their teaching strategies.

The Phonics Screening Check results are not an end but a beginning – a starting point for targeted personalised phonics instruction. Isn’t that an excellent way to ensure every child’s reading journey is successful?

The Impact of the Phonics Screening Check on Teaching Phonics

Ever wondered how the Phonics Screening Check has influenced teaching strategies? It’s pretty fascinating! This check has led to a shift in pedagogical approaches, encouraging educators to emphasise phonics in early years and Key Stage 1.

Teachers now incorporate more phonics lessons into their daily schedules, using a variety of engaging activities such as interactive games, phonics songs, and flashcards.

There’s also a stronger focus on individualized instruction, ensuring each child’s unique learning needs are met. It’s all about enhancing the learning experience.

Enhancements in Children’s Phonics Abilities

But what about the children? Has the Phonics Screening Check made a difference to their phonics abilities? Absolutely! With the increased focus on phonics instruction, children now decode words more confidently and accurately.

They’re gaining a deeper understanding of phonics rules, enabling them to read unfamiliar words more easily.

Moreover, the check serves as a valuable learning tool, allowing children to apply their phonics knowledge in a supportive environment. This boosts their self-esteem and motivates them to improve their skills further.

Case Studies Demonstrating the Impact

Now, let’s delve into some real-world examples. How has the Phonics Screening Check impacted schools and students? Numerous case studies have shown positive results.

For instance, a study by the Department for Education revealed that the proportion of students reaching the expected standard in the check increased from 58% in 2012 to 82% in 2019.

Another compelling example is a primary school in Leeds, which reported significant improvements in reading abilities following the introduction of the check. The school attributed this success to their robust phonics program, developed in response to the Phonics Screening Check.

The Future of the Phonics Screening Check

Possible Changes and Improvements

What could the future hold for the Phonics Screening Check? As we continue to adapt and refine our educational strategies, it’s only natural to expect evolution in this area. We know that change is the only constant, right?

One of the potential improvements could be integrating more contextual reading into the check. This would allow us to not only assess a child’s phonics skills but also their comprehension abilities. After all, isn’t reading about understanding the story, not just deciphering the words?

Another consideration is making the check more inclusive and adaptable for every learner. This could mean tailoring the check for children with special educational needs or those learning English as an additional language.

Because at the end of the day, it’s about ensuring that every child can showcase their phonics knowledge to the best of their ability, don’t you agree?

Its Role in Future Educational Policies

Now, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. How might the Phonics Screening Check influence future educational policies? Given the significant strides it has made in improving phonics instruction and enhancing children’s reading abilities, it’s likely that the check will remain a cornerstone of literacy policies.

Perhaps we’ll even see the check being implemented in more countries around the globe, widening the impact of systematic phonics instruction. And who knows?

Maybe the Phonics Screening Check approach could be applied to other aspects of the curriculum, using succinct checks to monitor progress and guide teaching methods. Can you envision the potential?


As we conclude our discussion, let’s pause and reflect on the significance and advantages of the Phonics Screening Check. It’s undeniable that this tool holds a pivotal place in our children’s education journey, don’t you concur?

The Phonics Screening Check lays a robust foundation for children to navigate their way through school. This simple yet effective assessment verifies whether individual students have mastered phonics, a critical skill that forms the basis for reading comprehension later in their academic journey.

The check serves as a consistent measure across different grade levels, assisting educators in pinpointing students who may require additional support. This eases teachers’ workloads and ensures every child is given the necessary attention and help.

Fluent decoding, which the check encourages, aids students’ comprehension as it liberates mental energy for understanding the text instead of wrestling with individual words. Furthermore, the check offers valuable insights to teachers and parents into how children are progressing in their reading journey.

To sum up, the Phonics Screening Check transcends beyond being a mere assessment – it’s an instrument that promotes learning, supports educators, and empowers children to become proficient readers. Isn’t that what we all aspire for our children?

So let’s champion the Phonics Screening Check. Let’s harness it to its maximum potential to shape our teaching methodologies and bolster our children’s learning voyage. Because when we invest in our children’s literacy skills, we invest in their future. Can there be a better investment than that?

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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