Phonics is the systematic teaching of the sounds (phonemes), that accompany the written letters (graphemes). It is designed to teach children to become confident and fluent readers by the end of Year 2. At St Peter’s, we follow the “Letters and Sounds” synthetic phonics produced by the Department for Education. Phonics teaching is part of our daily routine at St Peter’s and begins in Nursery and continues throughout Key Stage One. Pupils in Year 2 who have not yet passed their phonics test have additional phonics support through small group interventions. Children in KS2 who are developing their phonological awareness will also take part in small group interventions.
In some year groups, the pupils are streamed according to their phonics ability in order to provide targeted support.
Year 1 phonics screening check
At the end of Year 1, children will undertake a statutory phonics screening check. This is a short assessment to make sure that children have learnt phonics to an appropriate standard. There are 40 words in the screening check which children are asked to read on a one-to-one basis with their teacher. The check is made up of ‘real words’ (eg. ‘mud’) and ‘non-words’ (eg. ‘splog’) and children need to apply their phonic knowledge to read all words. Preparation for the check takes place during the daily phonics session, but parents/carers can help children by practising phonics on a regular basis.
What sort of check is it and is it compulsory?
It is a school-based check to make sure that your child receives any additional support promptly, should they need it. It is not a stressful situation as the teacher will be well-equipped to listen and understand your child’s level of skills. Every child in England reads the same words.
There will be a few practice words first to make sure your child understands the activity.
What does it check?
It checks 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 pseudo words.
What are nonsense or pseudo words and why are they included?
These are words that are phonically decodable but are not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb. Pseudo words are included in the check specifically to assess whether your child can decode a word using phonics skills and not their memory.
The pseudo words will be shown to your child with a picture of a monster and they will be asked to tell their teacher what sort of monster it is by reading the word. Crucially, it does not provide any clues, so your child just has to be able to decode it.
How will my child be scored? Is there a pass mark?
If children do not reach the required standard, then the teacher will be in touch to discuss plans and offer additional, tailored support to ensure that your child can catch up. Children progress at different speeds so not reaching the threshold score does not necessarily mean there is a serious problem. Your child will re-sit the check, the following summer term when they are in Year 2.
The test is out of 40 and a score of 32 or higher is usually a pass mark.
What happens to the results?
We report your child’s results to you by the end of the summer term as well as to the local authority, but the results won’t be published in a league table as with Year 6 SATs. If you have any concerns, do talk to your child’s class teacher or our phonics lead.
Do all schools and children have to participate?
All schools and academies in England must take part in the phonics screening check.
What can I do to help my child?
Check with your child’s teacher if there are any particular areas that you should focus on at home so that you are working together to support your child and enjoy the pleasure of reading together every day.
What should I do if my child is struggling to decode a word?
- Say each sound in the word from left to right.
- Blend the sounds by pointing to each letter, i.e. /b/ in bat, or letter group, i.e. /igh/ in sigh, as you say the sound, then run your finger under the whole word as you say it.
- Talk about the meaning if your child does not understand the word they have read.
- Work at your child’s pace.
- Always be positive and give lots of praise and encouragement.