Phonics Screening

What is the Y1 Phonics screening check?

As a parent/carer, what do you need to know about the phonics screening check?

The Phonics Screening Check is to show how well your child can use the phonics skills they’ve learned up to the end of Year 1, and to identify any children who need extra phonics help. The Department for Education defines the checks as “short, light-touch assessments” that take about four to nine minutes to complete.


The check consists of 40 words and non-words  that your child will be asked to read one-on-one with their class 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!).


You can download the Department for Education’s official Year 1 official screening test paper 2018  to get an idea of what your child will be asked to do.


When does the Y1 Phonics screening check take place?

School will administer the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check the week beginning 12 June this year.

Does my child have to take it?

Yes – all children in Year 1 must take the Screening Check.

What will my child’s score mean?

Your child will be scored against a national standard, and the main result will be whether or not they fall below, within or above this standard.

The “pass threshold” is 32, which means children have to read at least 32 words out of 40 correctly.

You will be told how your child did. If your child’s score falls below the standard, they will be given extra phonics help and can re-take the Phonics screening check in Year 2.

How can I help my child prepare?

You can help your child prepare for their Phonics Screening Check by going over the phonics they’ve learned in Reception and Year 1. Read new books and stories with them where they will be introduced to new words that they’ll have to sound out, and review the phonics sounds and rules.

Please talk to your child’s class teacher if you have any concerns about your child’s phonic knowledge and understanding or would like any further information.


Please click here to go to our phonics page where you can find out more about how we teach phonics at Bolshaw and how you can help your child at home.

Bolshaw Primary School

Cross Road, Heald Green, Cheadle, SK8 3LW

Lynda Brown

Student Login