KS1 Phonics Screening Check Information for Parents

The Year 1 phonics screening check is not a formal test, but a way for teachers to ensure that children are making sufficient progress with their phonics skills to read words and that they are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and for learning.

The phonics screening check is taken individually by all children in Year 1 in England, and is taken in June. It is designed to give teachers and parents information on how each child is progressing in phonics. It will help to identify whether the child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early reading skill.

It is a school-based check to make sure that each 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 each child’s level of skills.

There will be a few practice words first to make sure each child understands the activity.

There are two sections in the 40-word check and it assesses phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1. The child will read up to four words per page for their teacher and they will probably do the check in one sitting of about 5-10 minutes.

You can download a copy of the 2019 Phonics screening check from the gov.uk website here.

Phonic Screen Check will take place over the week of 8th June 2020

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 each child can decode a word using phonics skills and not their memory.

The pseudo words will be shown to each 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. This not only makes the check a bit more fun, but provides the children with a context for the nonsense word which is independent from any existing vocabulary they may have. Crucially, it does not provide any clues, so each child just has to be able to decode it. Children generally find nonsense amusing so they will probably enjoy reading these words.

How will my child be scored? Is there a pass mark?

The check is not about passing or failing but checking appropriate progress is being made. 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 each child can catch up. Children progress at different speeds so not reaching the threshold score does not necessarily mean there is a serious problem. Children who do not pass in year 1 will re-sit the check the following summer term.

For the last few years, the threshold mark (or pass standard) set by the government has been 32 correct answers out of 40.

We will report each child’s results to parents 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 SATs. 

Useful Resources for Phonics Revision

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.

Visit the Phonics made easy page for further hints, tips and videos to help you learn more about phonics and how you can help your child in the most effective way. 

Below are some useful links to online games which will not only be fun for your child to play but will help improve their phonics skills. 


A great selection of games that link well with games in Letters and Sounds. www.phonicsplay.co.uk a selection of interactive games for all phonic phases. Mostly simple games. 


A selection of interactive games for all phonic phases.


Mix of very good interactive games and worksheets covering most phonic phases. Recommend Sandcastle quiz for phase 3 and 5. 


A very good selection of interactive games focussing on phonics and sentence construction. Each is split into medium/hard/really hard and are short and fun. 


Mix of very good interactive games covering most phonic phases. 


A very good selection of interactive games focussing on phonics and sentence construction. Some games need a subscription but others are free to play.